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Someone contacts you on social media — and they’re interested in getting to know you. Or maybe you meet someone special on a dating website or mobile app. Soon the person wants to write to you directly or start talking on the phone. They say it’s true love, but they live far away — maybe because of work, or because they’re in the military.

Then they start asking for money. Maybe it’s for a plane ticket to visit you. Or emergency surgery. Or something else urgent.

Scammers of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations make fake profiles, sometimes using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They build relationships — some even pretend to plan weddings — before they disappear with your money.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Stop. Don’t send money. Never send anyone cash or pay with gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.

  1. Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten tangled up with a romance scam, but chances are, you know someone who will — if they haven’t already.

Want to know more?

Sign up for Consumer Alerts at ftc.gov/ConsumerAlerts.