In the mood for love (scams): Government agency reveals most common sweetheart swindles

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the Federal Trade Commission compiled a list that’s sure to not warm the heart. 

The agency revealed the most common romance-related scams designed to swindle people out of their hard-earned money by tugging on their heartstrings. These scammers romance their marks, then shake them down for dough using a variety of excuses to send money.

At 24%, the most commonly reported scam was to have a newfound “love” convince their mark that they need money because a loved one was sick, hurt or in jail. 

There was a three-way tie (at 18%) for the second-most-common grifts: Scammers offering their “love” the chance to score on an investment; the scammer pretending they were in the military far away; and those who try to convince their target that they need dough to complete a delivery.

The FTC says 12% of consumers reported people asking for money after proposing or talking about marriage, even though they hadn’t met. 

Sextortion was a growing threat, too, according to the agency. This is when a scammer manages to get a person to send an explicit photo, then threatens to publicize it unless they’re paid. The FTC says reports of this kind of scam have increased more than eightfold in the past three years, with victims between the ages of 18 and 29 six times more likely to be targeted compared to older consumers. 

The FTC says romance-related scams soaked nearly 70,000 consumers for $1.3 billion in 2022.