As part of its role in combatting online financial fraud, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today launches a five-day digital awareness campaign to remind the public about the dangers of online romance scams. The campaign is part of an ICE partnership with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), who have launched Dating or Defrauding, a national awareness effort to alert the public to romance scams that target victims largely through dating apps or social media. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 2020 was a record year for romance scams and consumer reports to the FTC indicate that the number of romance scam complaints continued to increase through 2021.
“Romance scams are not new, but with the proliferation of online dating apps, social media and messaging apps, new types of scams are emerging that target new audiences and have drained victims of millions of dollars,” said Steve Francis, acting executive assistance director, HSI. “These scams are a form of financial crime that can have a devastating impact on the individuals involved. A year-over-year comparison through the third quarter showed a 48 percent increase in reported romance frauds. HSI is committed to investigating and bringing to justice those who prey on innocent victims.”
The multi-agency awareness campaign runs Feb. 7 to Mar. 11, to help individuals protect their heart and their wallet and illustrates to the public how to recognize the scams before they give any money or assets and provides steps to take if they are victimized. To learn more about online romance scams and how you can protect yourself, visit ice.gov/features/romance-scams.
Call the ICE Tipline at 866-347-2423, or visit ice.gov/tipline to report suspicious activity.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.