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3 BIG Questions: Alice Diamond

3 BIG Questions: Alice Diamond Dating.jpg

How not to become a victim in a romance scam

By Alice Diamond
Volunteer, AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline – Special to Prime

     Alice Diamond is a career and admissions coach who formerly served as associate dean of career and community service at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Diamond became interested in joining efforts to combat fraud when she encountered numerous fraudulent job postings in her work. Today, Diamond speaks about fraud and identity theft to community groups and senior centers as part of the Massachusetts AARP Speakers Bureau, and also volunteers on the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline. 

        Prime reached out to Diamond for info about the growing issue of romance scams, how not to fall victim and what to do if you suspect you’ve become one. Here’s what she shared:

Q: Romance scams are at an all-time high, with online dating apps being the number one place to fall victim. But there are others. Where else — online and off — can the unsuspecting get scammed?

        “Scammers connect with potential victims in a variety of places beyond dating apps, including gaming sites, social media including Facebook and Instagram, and any app with a chat/message function. Some scammers start with a text message that appears to be sent to you by mistake.”

Q: Are there ways you can determine if that potential romantic partner is for real or a scam? What kinds of precautions are wise when getting to know someone new — online or offline?

        “Romance fraud is rampant and growing, according to the Federal Trade Commission. While people of all ages are targeted, older adults tend to lose more money than younger people. Romance scams can be devastating to those who are victimized not only financially, but emotionally as well. It can be very difficult for those who are victimized to believe that they are being scammed. Scammers have refined their strategies, using techniques which take advantage of victims’ vulnerabilities. Reported losses for romance scams in 2023 were $1.14 billion, and the majority of romance scams are not reported, because victims often feel embarrassed.

Signs that you may be targeted in a romance scam:

The person wants to leave the dating site quickly and use personal email, text, phone, or instant messaging.

Be cautious of any relationship that develops quickly and the person lavishes excessive attention on you.  Scammers may chat with their targets for hours a day, drawing them in with flattery.

They claim to be from the U.S. but are traveling, working overseas, deployed in the military, or on an oil rig, so meeting in person is impossible.

They profess love for you and they give elaborate excuses for why they cannot meet you.

They make plans to visit, but cancel due to traumatic events, business issues, or unusual situations.

They ask you for money for any reason, including travel expenses, medical emergency, family needs, contribution to charity, lack of access to their bank account, or legal problems. They may claim to soon receive a large inheritance and say that they will share it with you.

Scammers may ask for money by gift cards, wire transfer, using cryptocurrency ATMs, or via peer to peer payment apps including Venmo or Zelle.

Scammers may combine a romance scam with investment advice, including cryptocurrency. They may create fake investment statements to make it appear that you are making a lot of money.

Many romance scams may not be conducted by only one individual; there can be an entire organization of people who pose as family members or investment company staff. They may create fake websites, false documents, and photographs.

Some romance scammers play a long game, luring in victims and waiting months before asking for anything. Their first request may be for a small amount of money, which they return quickly to build trust. Over time, requests increase.

Be aware of requests to connect on social media from anyone you don’t know. Scammers may use your social media posts to gather information about you, so that they can point out common interests.  Be cautious about posting on social media.

        “In my calls for the Fraud Watch Network, I have talked to people from all walks of life and occupations who have been victimized by romance scammers, who are criminals capable of using sophisticated techniques to steal money from their targets.

Q: If you think you’ve been sucked into a romance scam, what should you do?

      “Immediately cut off contact with the person.

Tell family and friends about the love interest and pay attention if they have concerns.

Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network at 877-908-3360. Calls are free and you do not have to be an AARP member to call.

Do a reverse image search of any photographs you have received.

Notify the app or platform on which the initial contact took place.

Contact law enforcement.

If you have provided personal information to the scammer, go to

File reports with the Federal Trade Commission at and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Participate in the victim support groups run by the AARP Fraud Watch Network: or by the Cybercrime Support Network:”