BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — With Valentines' Day just around the corner, the FBI is warning that "romance scams" are more prevalent this time of year — and hundreds of New-Englanders have reportedly fallen for the con.
According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams have resulted in one of the highest amounts of financial losses when compared to other internet-based crimes.
"In this type of fraud, scammers take advantage of people looking for companionship or romantic partners on dating websites, apps, chat rooms, and social networking sites," the agency said. "With the sole goal of obtaining access to their financial or personal identifying information."
The agency added that the crimes have been particularly prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people are stuck in isolation and looking to make connections.
In 2020 the FBI reported around 23,768 complaints categorized as romance scams, which is about 4,295 more complaints than the previous year. The total financial loss associated with those complaints is around $605 million.
When it comes to the data in New England, the FBI Boston Division said there were around 569 complaints totaling $11.7 million in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Here is the breakdown among those states:
- 57 complaints in Maine, totaling over $1.5 million
- 71 in New Hampshire, totaling over $820,000
- 80 in Rhode Island, totaling over $1.3 million
- 361 in Massachusetts, totaling over $8 million
The agency is warning people to be on high alert for these types of scams, and to avoid transfering money or personal information to people they have not met in person.
If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, they ask you to stop all contact with that person immediately, and report any transfers of funds to your bank or financial institution.
You can then file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports.