Date Posted: 
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Washington State Department of Financial Instititutions (DFI) has received complaints from Washington consumers who have reported that they have been victims of online romance scams. 

Consumers reported that they suffered financial harm after sending money and/or digital assets, including:

  • cryptocurrency
  • money orders
  • gift cards
  • reloadable
  • prepaid cards
  • various mobile applications
  • and/or by making a bank transfer

How Romance Scams Work

Romance scammers use social media platforms, dating websites, and mobile messaging applications to target people.  The scammer will spend time getting to know you before asking you to send them money or introducing you to an alleged investment opportunity. 

Scammers often say they are working or traveling outside of the United States, may be reluctant to show you their face, refuse to meet you in person, and/or make promises to meet you in person but ultimately make excuses to cancel.

Once a scammer gains your trust and affection, they may:

  • Make a sudden request for you to send them money to deal with an emergency.
  • Pressure you into sending money, gift cards, digital assets, including cryptocurrency, and/or other untraceable funds.
  • Offer to help you make money through alleged investment opportunities.

The Department of Financial Institutions warns Washington consumers that once money is sent to a scammer, it is often impossible to find the scammer or get their money back. 

How to Protect Yourself from a Romance Scam

Consumers should take the following steps to protect themselves:

  • Do not send money, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or other things of value to someone you do not know or have only interacted with online or by phone. 
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information on social media platforms, or other online profiles.
  • Verify whether a business recommended to you is legitimate.  Businesses that provide money transmission or investment advisory services are generally required to be registered with a Federal regulator such as the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, and/or the Department of Financial Institutions to engage in business in Washington State.
  • Research and verify information a potential partner suggests or recommends to you.
  • Be on the lookout for red flags like the scammer seems too perfect, progresses the relationship quickly, attempts to isolate you from friends or family, promises to meet you in person but always comes up with an excuse why he or she cannot meet. 
  • Stay informed about current scams.

What To Do If You're A Victim of a Scam

  • Stop communicating with the scammer.
  • Check your financial accounts for unauthorized charges or changes.  You should immediately contact your financial institutions if you discover any unauthorized charges or changes.
  • Take steps to protect accounts with personal or financial information.
  • Report the incident to local law enforcement.

Who To Contact If You're A Victim of Fraud

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam you can contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at

Or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or online at

If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft.  You can contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus to take appropriate precautions.  The FTC has information for victims of identity theft online at

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at

If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, you can contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus.  Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at

Keep informed about common scams.  Visit and click on “Scams” for information about recent scams.