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Fraudsters are increasingly exploiting social media like Facebook und Instagram or dating apps like Tinder to find victims for their criminal activities.

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Last year, an increasing number of victims of “love scams”, who had been swindled out of a lot of money by acquaintances that they had only become acquainted (and fallen in love) with virtually over social media, contacted the FMA. The love scam or romance scam is a form of Internet fraud, in which criminals search for their potential victims over social media under false identities, and often build up a personal relationship with them over a period of months, and feign romantic feelings with them in order to then exploit them financially. Communications and introductions platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or messaging services like Telegram as well as dating platforms and services, like Tinder, are particular popular for this form of fraud, as they make it very easy to strike up contact and to communicate.

“Love Scam” – financial fraud through longing for the love of your life

As soon as a strong feeling of trust and/or an emotional relationship has been established, the victim is either asked for financial support in a surprising personal crisis situation or a proposal is made about financially investing in a shared future. The transfers are then usually made to accounts overseas or using payment services like Western Union or MoneyGram, from where the money is siphoned off quickly and anonymously. Generally it starts off with smaller amounts, which are at least repaid in part, in order to increase trust. However, recurring requests then follow for new and higher amounts, demanded with increasing pressure. This continues until the victim breaks off contact or involves the police.

In other cases, the criminal proposes making financial investments with promised high returns for a future together. In this instance, the financial products are usually worthless or in reality non-existent, or the victim is lured towards or referred to fraudulent trading platforms – for example for crypto assets. Or victims are enticed to provide banking details, account information or credit card information as well as copies of their passport or identification documents, which the criminals can then use to initiate financial transactions themselves, and to clean out their account balance. Or, such personal information and proof of identity are used for other fraudulent activities. Victims are often also asked to allow their account to be used for transactions or to perform such transactions. In this case it mainly constitutes the offence of money laundering.

The police and financial services providers also warn

The FMA is generally unable to offer much hope to the victims that contact the FMA about the payments they have made being able to be reversed. Since this form of fraud is usually the work of organised criminal gangs in foreign countries, money is withdrawn quickly, and disappears into dark channels. The FMA nevertheless recommends submitting a report to the police, in order to be able to claim for damages more easily in the event of funds being seized.

The criminal prevention services of the police in Austria, Switzerland and Germany already have a wide range of information on their Internet presences about how you can recognise love scams and how you can protect yourself against them. They also inform you what to do in the event that you or someone you know has already become a victim. Many banks and payment services also post information and warnings about love scams on their websites.

Further information about financial and investment fraud issues can also be found on the FMA website at

Journalists may address further enquiries to:

Klaus Grubelnik (FMA Media Spokesperson)

+43 (0)676 88249516 or +43 (0)1 249 59 – 6006