We realize it’s not a popular topic immediately after Valentine’s Day, but there’s a growing scam trend that’s occurring throughout the entire year. According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists. That’s a staggering statistic.

Social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating. Unfortunately, fraudsters have capitalized on this trend and often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish relationships and eventually, extort money. Older Americans, in particular, have been targeted by this type of scam. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is being scammed, the ABA Foundation and FTC recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Slow down – and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • Contact First Bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer.
  • Report your experience to the online dating site and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint FBI at ic3.gov.

(Source: ABA, American Bankers Association)