Ask Mary: Lucky in Love or Unlucky in a Scam?

Many Americans dream of finding their one true love and, in the world of technology, many are turning to online platforms to find that special someone. Common online platforms include (but are not limited to) email, social media, dating apps and dating websites. While one person’s intentions may be to find love, unfortunately scammers have been preying on these hopeless romantics for financial gain.

Romance scammers typically create fictitious profiles with attractive pictures and personal information lifted from other internet searches. Within a short period of communication, the scammer is likely to claim they need money for medical emergencies or other hardships but could not meet in person due to being in the military and stationed abroad. To make it easier, the scammers can accept wire, gift cards, reloaded cards or even the account holder’s debit card information. Scammers have also been known to ask for online banking credentials to pay the person back by using mobile deposit of a counterfeit or fraudulent check.

According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report issued February 12, 2019, romance scams ranked number one on total reported losses. From 2015 to 2018, the report of romance scams has since more than doubled, and the dollars lost is four times higher than previously reported. The group most likely impacted by the romance scams were between the ages of 40 to 69. However, those over the age of 70 had larger losses. The median romance scam loss in 2018 was $2,600.

The FTC website has many valuable tools that you can share with your account holders via your website or by displaying in your branch locations. There are also videos you can share on your social media channels to further educate your clients.

Fighting Fraud Takes More Than Luck!

Are love scams making your heart hurt? EPCOR is bringing back our popular Quarterly Compliance and Fraud Review webinar series. This quarterly series will examine the latest threats and challenges circulating the payments industry so that your organization can plan a proactive response. Register today online or contact Member Support at 800.500.0100 or via email at memserve@epcor.org.