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Americans lost a record $547M in online romance scams in 2021, the FTC says

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Federal Trade Commission released its yearly report on online romance scams.

The report shows a record $547 million was lost in 2021, after more than $300 million was lost in 2020.

Dana Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona. She says the removal of stigmas around online dating have contributed to an increase in fraud, especially for the elderly.

“So, it could be that they're not tech savvy. It also could be that they're more people actually trying these online apps to find romance. And we know that during COVID, more and more people were turning to online platforms,” said Kennedy.

She says research from 2020 found that elderly people lose the most money in scams like these.

“People aged 40-69 have been the most likely to report losing money on a romance scam. And people 70 and over report the highest median losses, just a little under $10,000,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy recommends looking for red flags when talking to someone online, such as someone repeatedly planning and canceling in-person meetings. She also suggests not sending money via mail, wire or electronic transfer to someone you’ve met online before you meet them in person.

If you do fall victim to a scammer, she says AARP has a national fraud helpline at (877) 908-3360, and those in Arizona looking to report local fraud can contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.