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Military Consumers and Romance Scams

For Military Consumer Month, let’s talk a little about how romance scammers target people who support the troops — and sometimes servicemembers themselves. These scammers can be any age, gender, or sexual orientation and may approach you on dating sites or on social media platforms. In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam to the FTC — and losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion.

These scammers may steal photos of real military personnel for their profiles. They might say they need cash to apply for a “leave request” to visit you. Or to pay for food and medical treatment during their deployment. One recent twist involves romance scammers pretending to be U.S. troops deployed to Ukraine where there’s no U.S. military presence. The scammers ask you to send them care packages by wiring money through an official-looking (but fake) military website.

(Servicemembers never have to pay to get packages, food, medical treatment, or to take leave.)

How can you avoid a romance scam?

  • If an online love interest asks you for money — especially using gift cards, wire transfers, payment apps, or cryptocurrency — that’s a scam. Period.

  • If someone appears on your social media and rushes you — to start a friendship or romance, or to get into a “great” investment opportunity (maybe in crypto) — slow down. Talk to someone you trust before you respond.

  • Try a reverse image search of profile pictures. If the details don’t match up, it’s a scam.

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