Romance Scams

Get support to recognize, report and recover from romance scams.

Step 1:Recognize

Here are key indicators to watch out for, both if you suspect you’re involved in a romance scam and if you’re concerned that someone you care about might be at risk.

Warning Signs That You or Your Loved One May Be Involved in a Romance Scam:

  • Rapid Romance Development: The person professes love or strong affection very quickly, often within days or weeks of starting the conversation.
    Inconsistencies in Their Story: Their personal stories or details don’t add up, or they avoid answering specific questions about themselves.
  • Avoidance of Face-to-Face Meetings: They consistently find excuses to avoid meeting in person. If they can’t meet face-to-face within a month, that’s a major red flag. Video chats aren’t enough because AI gives the cybercriminal the ability to look or sound like anyone.
  • Requests for Money: They ask for financial help, often citing emergencies such as medical issues, travel expenses, or business problems. They also request money through unconventional means, like cryptocurrency, wire transfers, gift cards, or prepaid debit cards
  • Secrecy and Isolation: They encourage the relationship to be kept a secret or become upset if it is discussed with friends or family. This isolation tactic is a common strategy used by scammers.
  • Overly Flattering and Sympathetic: They constantly give excessive compliments and sympathy, creating a strong emotional dependence. They might write love songs, poems, send frequent text messages, call first thing in the morning and last thing at night, or even send small gifts to maintain a constant presence in the victim’s life.

Step 2:Immediate Actions

Here are some steps to take if you think you have been scammed:

  • Stop Communication: Cease all communication with the scammer immediately to prevent further manipulation or financial loss.
  • Document Everything: Keep records of all communication, transactions, emails, or any other relevant information related to the scam. This documentation may be necessary for reporting the scam to authorities or for potential legal action.
  • Contact Financial Institutions: If money has been transferred or sensitive financial information has been shared, contact your bank, credit card company, or any other financial institution involved. They may be able to help prevent further unauthorized transactions.
  • Protect Sensitive Information: If you shared personal information, take steps to protect yourself from identity theft. This may include placing a credit freeze/fraud alert on your credit report, changing your passwords, or monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity.
  • Alert Online Platforms: Report the cybercriminal to the dating website, social media platform, or messaging app where the scam began so they can prevent the cybercriminal from targeting others.
  • Scan and Clean Your Devices: Scan all of the devices (i.e. computer, phone, tablet) you used to communicate with the cybercriminal for viruses and malware. If you find anything, clean your devices immediately.
  • Stay Vigilant: Remain cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or calls. After you’ve been scammed once, your information is likely to be sold to other cybercriminals and you’re more likely to be targeted again.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or support groups. If you’re interested in a support group, consider joining our Romance Scam Recovery Group.

Step 3:Report

When you are ready, report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Reporting cybercrime is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Reporting cybercrime helps lawmakers understand the scope and nature of cyber threats, enabling them to develop effective strategies and allocate funds to combat cybercrime and protect our communities.
  2. It can lead to the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators, holding offenders accountable for their actions. Your information may be the missing piece that connects multiple victims to one cybercriminal. Prosecutors will need this information to build a strong case and secure a conviction.
  3. Reporting cybercrime allows victims to access support and resources to mitigate the damage caused, such as recovering stolen funds or repairing compromised accounts.

Step 4:Recover

How to Recover Emotionally from a Romance Scam

Recovering emotionally from a romance scam can be a challenging and painful process. Here are some steps to help you heal and regain your emotional well-being:

  • Acknowledge Feelings: Recognize the emotions you’re experiencing—like anger, sadness, betrayal, or embarrassment—and understand that these feelings are normal and valid. Allow yourself to grieve, acknowledging that you were a victim of manipulation.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or support groups for understanding and comfort. If you’re interested in a support group, consider joining our Romance Scam Recovery Group to connect with others who have had similar experiences.
  • Educate Yourself and Set Boundaries: Learn from the experience to protect yourself in the future by educating yourself about romance scams and how they operate. This can help you make sense of what happened and reduce feelings of guilt and shame. In addition, establish and maintain boundaries to protect your wellbeing.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and avoid self-blame. Remember, scammers are skilled manipulators. Regularly ask yourself if what you are doing is helping or hurting you in your healing journey.
  • Focus on Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote your well-being such as exercise, journaling, mindfulness, or hobbies. Develop positive coping strategies like setting new goals, reflecting on your progress, and practicing gratitude to aid in increasing positive mental health.

Understand that recovery takes time. Be patient with yourself and recognize that healing is gradual. By following these steps, you can begin to heal from the emotional wounds of a romance scam and move forward with resilience and strength.

How to Improve Your Online Security

Take action to improve your online security by following these steps:

  • Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  • Update Your Privacy Settings. Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all social media accounts and consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  • Activate Automatic Updates. Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  • Use a Password Manager. A password manager is a software tool that securely stores all of your login credentials in one place, allowing you to create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts.
  • Educate Yourself. Take the opportunity to learn more about common scams and how to recognize them in the future. Knowledge is one of the best defenses against scams.

How to Recover Financially from a Romance Scam

Navigating the financial aftermath of a romance scam can be overwhelming, but know that you’re not alone in this journey. Here are some steps you can take to cope and recover financially:

  • Utilize Community Resources: Call 211 or visit for assistance with essential needs like food, shelter, and other support services. 211 can provide valuable assistance as you work towards financial stability.
  • Explore Legal Options: Depending on the circumstances of the scam, you may want to explore legal options for recovering your losses. Consult with an attorney who specializes in fraud or consumer protection law to understand your rights and options. The National Crime Victim Bar Association can help you with a referral for a civil attorney.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Consider seeking advice from a financial advisor or credit counselor who can help you assess your financial situation and develop a plan for recovery. They may also provide guidance on managing debt, rebuilding your credit, and assist you with building a plan that can help you eventually rebuild your finances. Get credit counseling services from
  • Monitor Credit Reports: Regularly monitor your credit reports for any unauthorized accounts or activity. You can request free credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts for added protection.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN