Bipartisan Bill Takes Aim at Dating App Scams

Lawmakers in the House are considering a measure that would raise awareness among dating app users about the prevalence of fraudsters, who bilked their prey out of more than one million dollars in a single year.

This week, Representatives David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Colorado) are reintroducing their Online Dating Safety Act.

If the law is enacted, a fraud notice would be sent to users of dating services and apps after they have spoken with someone who has been prohibited from using the app due to using a false identity or using the program to deceive others.

According to a report, after making contact with a potential victim via a phony profile, the con artist will start up a discussion and attempt to develop a connection via frequent messaging. Once people build confidence in the romance scammer and feel they have a genuine connection, the online predator will make up a tale, ask them to give money, and disappear.

Another potential money scam: they could send you money. This might trap someone in a “money mule” plan in which the con artist asks you to move money around (either by depositing it into your checking account or distributing it to others). It’s possible that money laundering is behind these demands.

The FBI claims a 25% rise in complaints of this kind of internet fraud during 2019, with victims losing a record $547 million to online con artists in 2021. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the data on online dating scams.

According to Pettersen, dating apps are the new frontier for fraudsters and crooks aiming to exploit unsuspecting users, and rules are slow to catch up.

Every online dating site, according to Pettersen, should include a simple security feature that alerts customers if they are in communication with a prospective fraudster. According to the research, the average loss was almost $1.3 billion, with the median loss being about $4,400.

Recent data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) indicates that about 70,000 individuals fell prey to romance scams in 2022.

Four in ten victims say they were approached initially via social media, with 19% saying the same about applications or websites.