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 Love can truly hurt! Add an elaborate scam into the mix, and you’ve got yourself some devastating heartbreak.

According to a recent report published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),  thousands of people reported losing money to romance scams between 2016 to 2020. Scamming in the name of love reached an all-time high in 2020, following the pandemic, with people reportedly losing a whopping $304 million to online dating shams. “For an individual, that meant a median dollar loss of $2,500,” the report noted. Many of the innocent victims said they were targeted on dating apps or social media.

The agency’s data also revealed that many of the scams involved sending large sums of money to the strategic romance swindlers, like the classic Money Mule Scam, where savvy internet thieves convince an individual to send large amounts of cash to them or someone else. A majority of the crooks preyed on their prospective sweetie’s compassion by creating an elaborate story to get the person to transfer over funds. The scammers used all kinds of excuses from helping out a family member to COVID-19.

“People think they’re helping someone they care about, but they may actually be laundering stolen funds. In fact, many reported that the money they received and forwarded on turned out to be stolen unemployment benefits,” said the FTC. 

Yikes!

Gift card scams also skyrocketed by nearly 70 percent in 2020. Victims said they mailed the romance scammers gift cards loaded up with swaths of cash, and in some cases, the individual gave their card’s pin number to the sheisty crooks.

People ages 20 to 29 were hit hard online by love fraud in 2020, with cases nearly doubling since 2019. While folks between the ages of 40 and 70 were more likely to report losing money to romance scams. Elderly victims who were 70 and older had “the highest individual median losses at $9,475,” the FTC revealed.

 

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One fraudulent love scheme that’s been making headlines this week is the case of the “Tinder Swindler,” Simon Leviev.

The 31-year-old Israeli conman used Tinder to orchestrate a massive Ponzi Scheme, scamming an estimated total of $10 million from several women he dated on the platform, NBC News noted. On Feb. 2, Netflix debuted a scathing documentary about the infamous romance scammer called “The Tinder Swindler.”

The explosive doc includes testimonies from three women who claimed they were conned by Leviev on separate occasions, sometime in 2018 or 2019. The women alleged that the fraudster, whose real name is Shimon Hayut, “claimed he was the son of a wealthy tycoon, took them out on extravagant dates and started relationships with them before he eventually scammed them out of large sums of money,” NBC News noted. And what did they all have in common you ask? Leviev alleged he was in trouble and needed the money to pull himself out of a rut, but of course, he never repaid them.

Leviev has since been banned from Tinder, and on Feb. 8, Match.com, OkCupid and Hinge also barred the infamous romance scammer from their dating sites.

Leviev was banned from Tinder in 2019 and attempted to create an account again in 2021, according to an email statement issued from Tinder, USA Today noted.

Be safe out there folks!

 

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