Dating site users are being tricked into laundering money, FBI says


Dating apps are being used to trick people into scams.

Angela Lang/The Techy Trends

The FBI has put out a warning on “confidence/romance frauds” across online dating sites. Cybercriminals are tricking people into laundering and sending money, purchasing items and providing personal and financial information, the FBI said Monday, by posing as a US citizen in a foreign country, a US military member deployed overseas or a US business owner.

More than 15,000 people told the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) they were a victim of an online dating confidence/romance fraud, totaling $211 million in losses in 2017. This rose to 18,000 people and $362 million in 2018, the FBI said.

Some cybercriminals pretend to be a US citizen living overseas, spending months building relationships via online dating sites and then asking the victim to send gifts and electronics, followed by the money for a plane ticket to visit.

“In some cases, the actor claims the wired funds did not arrive and asks the victim to resend the money,” the FBI added. “When they don’t arrive as scheduled, they claim they were arrested, and ask for more money to post bail.”

Some situations also see victims convinced to set up a new bank account that is later used to facilitate criminal activities.

“Most dating site administrators do not conduct criminal background checks when an account is registered,” the FBI warned. It recommended dating site users do a reverse image search on anyone they connect with online.