No 36

Romance Scams

Financial fraud

When your money grows wings rather than you getting butterflies in your stomach: fraud in the online dating world.

Establishing contact:Scammers create a fake profile on a dating platform or on social networks. The profile is designed in an attractive and convincing way.

Building up a relationship:Scammers make contact and establish a seemingly real relationship. They communicate intensively in order to establish an emotional connection. Scammers often quickly declare their “love” thereby creating a strong emotional dependency.

The opportunity to invest:Once a connection has been established, perpetrators promote a low risk opportunity to invest money with promises of high returns. In practice, romance scanners do not promote apparently lucrative investment opportunities themselves, but instead initiate contact to a friendly investment adviser (often a relative). This approach makes it more difficult to detect the link between investment fraud and a romantic interest.

Transferring money:The victim transfers money in the belief that they are making a profitable investment.

Repeatedly asking for money:The perpetrators often also invent a hardship situation such as illness or having had an accident and request money. The requested amounts start off small, but the increase steadily.

Breaking off communications:Once the scammers believe that they are no longer able to convince the victims to make further payments, they break off contact. Scammers maintain contact over a period of weeks and months. They avoid meeting in person, and always have an excuse about why they are unable to repay any money.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Remain critical!Online acquaintances who very quickly display emotional affection, and ask for personal or financial information, are acting suspiciously.
  • Check their identity!As soon as you transfer your money to someone else’s account of your crypto assets into another person’s wallet, there is little to no chance of being able to recover it.
  • Beware of deepfakes!With the help of artificial intelligence, it is possible to creating phone calls and videos, in which the face, body and voice of a person is digitally modified in such a way that they appear like someone completely different.
  • Protect your personal information!Under no circumstances should you pass on sensitive information like account details, passwords or personal identification numbers (PIN).
  • Use the FMA’s company database!Frequently dubious trading platforms are promoted that are not even authorised to offer their services in Austria.
  • Be sure to check investor warnings!The FMA and other supervisory authorities (such as BaFin and the FCA) regularly publish warnings on their websites.
  • Even a quick Google search for reviews may be able to keep your money sage (e.g. Trustpilot).
  • Report suspicious activities!If you come across suspicious behaviour online, or think that fraud might be occurring, report it to the police and the FMA.


another term for fraud


Artificially generated or modified photos, videos and speech files.


the Financial Conduct Authority is the financial supervisory authority in the United Kingdom. It is the regulator for banks, insurance companies and brokers.


The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht) supervises and conducts oversight over banks, insurance companies and securities trading in Germany.

Company database:

Romance scams can be emotionally and financially distressing. If something appears too wonderful to be true, then it generally isn’t true!