Romance scams

Social media platforms and dating sites and apps are helping a lot of people break out of their isolation and form new friendships. While on-line dating can sometimes lead to rewarding relationships, it can also be used by fraudsters to target potential victims.

How to recognize a romance scam

  1. The person claims to have feelings for you, but you have never met them in person.

    The fraudster hopes you will be so blinded by the excitement of your budding relationship that you will let your guard down. If the person is a lot younger than you, they may tell you that “love knows no age.”

  2. The person asks you to continue chatting with them on an app such as WhatsApp.

    Dating apps and sites regularly remove fake profiles that are reported to them. Asking you to use another app is a way for the fraudster to avoid losing contact with you. The fraudster may tell you he’s deleted his profile because he’s sure you’re “the one.”

  3. The person lives or works abroad.

    The fraudster may claim that he works abroad (which is often true) and that’s why he can’t see you in person.

    The fraudster may tell you he’s planning to see you soon, but he always has a ready excuse for delaying the meeting and asking you for more money.

  4. The person’s picture looks like it’s taken from a magazine.

    Fraudsters are unlikely to use actual pictures of themselves. They prefer to steal and use photographs of other people.

Hélène’s story

Hélène was looking for a soulmate. After some hesitation, she joined a dating app. Her interest was piqued by a message she received from an individual named Paul. After corresponding for a while, Paul asked Hélène to continue their conversation on WhatsApp.

Hélène enjoyed chatting with Paul: he was educated, asked a lot of questions and seemed very interested in Hélène, with whom he shared some common interests. Paul told her he was finishing up a lucrative consulting project overseas and couldn’t make video calls because his Internet connection was unstable.

Paul suggested he and Hélène meet in Paris and then travel to the south of France. He said he could help Hélène finance her trip with high-yield, risk-free investments. Sensing Hélène’s reluctance, he recommended she start with a reasonable amount of $750.


Be careful if someone you’ve only met on-line asks you for money! It’s probably a scam.

End of the warning

Be careful on social media platforms and dating sites or apps

A fraudster may claim to have the same interests as you. They will casually ask you for your e-mail address and phone number or to continue chatting with them on an app such as WhatsApp. This is actually a ploy to move the conversation off the dating site or app so they can avoid raising suspicion and target more than one potential victim at a time. As the conversation continues, the fraudster will get to know you, including your plans and financial goals—information they will then use to fine-tune their fraud tactics.

Once they gain your trust, they will start bringing up money-related topics and eventually offer you investment opportunities or ask you for a cash loan or gift. Common reasons given include:

  • an investment opportunity, particularly in cryptoassets;
  • a real estate project;
  • a business deal;
  • a desire to travel with you or to see you;
  • a personal emergency, such as medical or legal costs.

The fraudster will make repeated requests for money, often starting with small, gradually increasing amounts, which can add up to substantial losses. Sooner or later, the fraudster will vanish with all your money.


What you can do to protect yourself

  • Never send money, even if the person asks for your help for medical or other reasons.
  • Never invest solely on the advice of someone you met on a social media platform or on a dating app or site.

    Remember, generally speaking, anyone who tries to sell you an investment product or gives you advice must be registered with the AMF.

  • Don’t fall for promises of high returns at zero risk.

    There is no such thing; all investments involve some level of risk, and the higher the potential returns, the higher the risk.

  • Never give your passwords or control of your computer to anyone, especially a stranger who claims to want to help you with your investments.

    The fraudster will steal your identity et your money.

  • Seek the opinion of a trusted friend or family member.

    The thought of meeting someone we seem to share affinities with can be exciting. A friend or family member can give you a valuable and objective opinion.

  • Ask for a video and audio call.

    If the person is the real deal, they should be open to a video and audio call. Be wary if the person constantly brings up technical issues affecting their microphone or webcam.

  • Ask questions, do some research and look for inconsistencies.

    For example, the e-mail address the person provided contains someone else’s name, or what the person says doesn’t match the information in their profile or on their social media account. Use search engines to check if there is any information about the person on the Internet.

End of the insight