FTC: Military Consumers and Romance Scams – Criminals Target People Who Support the Troops
By Space Coast Daily // July 10, 2023
FTC: If an online love interest asks you for money, that’s a scam
(FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION) – For Military Consumer Month, let’s talk briefly about how romance scammers target people who support the troops — and sometimes servicemembers themselves.
These scammers can be of any age, gender, or sexual orientation and may approach you on dating sites or social media platforms. In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam to the FTC — and losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion.
These scammers may steal photos of real military personnel for their profiles. They might say they need cash to apply for a “leave request” to visit you. Or to pay for food and medical treatment during their deployment.
One recent twist involves romance scammers pretending to be U.S. troops deployed to Ukraine, where there’s no U.S. military presence.
The scammers ask you to send them care packages by wiring money through an official-looking (but fake) military website. (Servicemembers never have to pay to get packages, food, medical treatment, or to take leave.)
How can you avoid a romance scam?
If an online love interest asks you for money — especially using gift cards, wire transfers, payment apps, or cryptocurrency — that’s a scam. Period.
If someone appears on your social media and rushes you — to start a friendship or romance or to get into a “great” investment opportunity (maybe in crypto) — slow down.
Talk to someone you trust before you respond. Try a reverse image search of profile pictures. If the details don’t match up, it’s a scam.
If you suspect someone is a scammer, cut off contact. Tell the online app or social media platform right away, and then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.