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DFR reminds consumers to be wary of romance scams this Valentine’s Day

Feb. 13, 2024

Salem – Romance scams can happen any time of year, but with Valentine's Day this week, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is warning people to watch their wallets when it comes to online romance.

A romance scam happens when a scammer uses a fake online identity to gain a person's trust and affection and uses the illusion of romance or intimacy to steal from the victim. Hallmarks of this scam include the scammer making outlandish promises or portraying an urgent need to send money to them, oftentimes incorporating elements of investment or cryptocurrency fraud as a part of the deceit.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2022 alone, romance scams affected nearly 70,000 people who were scammed out of $1.3 billion. Scammers pay attention to information you share over the internet and then pounce on those they believe are the most vulnerable, often those who are elderly or disabled. They will offer comfort and stability and seem like the perfect match.

According to the FBI, common romance scam red flags include:

  • The scammer makes promises to meet in person, but gives excuses as to why they cannot.
  • The scammer asks for money once they gain your trust. Typically, they claim that they owe a debt, need financial assistance, or need travel funds. Oftentimes, the requests are urgent or revolve around an emergency and they want you to get the funds immediately.
  • The scammer requests money through methods that make it hard to be traced and hard to get back such as Venmo or Cash App, cryptocurrency, or gift cards.
  • The scammer asks to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

Newer scams are calling on victims to use virtual currency kiosks, which are also known as Bitcoin or cryptocurrency ATMs. These machines look and operate like bank ATMs, and they allow scammers to receive payment in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Tether, and Ethereum. Scammers trick victims into withdrawing cash from their bank account and then direct the consumer to deposit the cash into a virtual currency kiosk. The consumer purchases the virtual currency, which is then sent to the scammer's crypto wallet.

DFR encourages consumers to do their homework before making any new financial transactions. Protect yourself from falling victim to a scam by following these tips:

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person and be cautious about sharing personal or financial information. Do not send money that you are not prepared to lose.
  • Do not transfer money to unknown people or intermediaries. If you need to use a third party to send money, use a licensed money transmitter.
  • Keep copies of all communications with scammers and report them to the division, the online dating site, the local police, the FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Be leery of offers or enticements that promise unrealistic rates of return. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Romance scams prey on and target everyday people through what may seem to be legitimate communications," said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “The proliferation of online dating sites and the ability to move money cheaply and quickly has only added to this problem, as fraudsters have used these means to take advantage of consumers to the tune of millions of dollars nationally. It is worth being wary and watching for red flags, specifically if someone not well known to you insists on receiving funds via cryptocurrency or gift cards."

For more information and tips about investing, visit DFR's website.

If you suspect you are involved in a romance scam or you have fallen victim, contact one of the division's consumer advocates at 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email


About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit and

​​​​​​​Media questions​

Jason Horton