Iowa Insurance Division Senior Financial Exploitation Newsletter - Romance Scams



February 2024  •  Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services  •

Did you Know
  • In 2023, romance scams made up nearly 30% of the senior financial exploitation reports filed with the Iowa Insurance Division. The total or attempted loss for these cases exceeded $4,000,000.00. 

  • According to a Federal Trade Commission report in 2022, there were an estimated 70,000 romance scam victims nationwide, resulting in consumer losses of approximately $1.3 billion.
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Contact US

Reports of suspected exploitation can be submitted online here, via email at, or by telephone at



Federal Trade Commission Romance Scam Consumer Advice 

FightCyberCrime.Org Website for Romance Scam Victims

Iowa Insurance Division Consumer Connection Regarding Cryptocurrency Scams

Iowa Insurance Division Consumer Connection Regarding Romance Scams


Romance Scams

Romance Scams: How this ever-increasing scam can affect your clients.

Finding love and companionship online  has become more and more common, with countless websites and apps promising to match lonely hearts with the perfect partner. Holidays, particularly Valentine’s Day, create a sense of urgency for everyone to find someone, anyone, to be their “valentine” for the special day.

Unfortunately, this can lead vulnerable people to unintentionally involve themselves with an unsavory character, whose goal is to take advantage of that vulnerability. Although there are numerous ways in which people can become victims of financial crime, schemes involving an element of romance have rapidly increased and are now the number one tactic used by scammers. 

Who is Affected by Romance Scams?

According to a recent survey by Deloitte, “Gen Z”, those born between the late 1990’s and mid 2000’s, are three times more likely to fall victim to romance scams compared to Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. Interestingly, while Gen Z faces a higher frequency of scams, Baby Boomers tend to experience greater financial losses. In short, ANYONE can become a victim of a romance scam!

This typically begins with a scammer reaching out to a victim online and continuing communication over a period of time to make the victim believe her or she is in a real relationship. Once the relationship and trust are established, the scammer may experience an “emergency” and claim they desperately need their partner to help them pay for various costs, including unexpected medical bills, travel expenses, or legal fees. Another approach is for the scammer to claim to have an exciting investment opportunity promising high returns and invite the victim to “invest.”  Instead of investing those funds, the scammer will pocket the money for themselves. 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is timely to highlight the importance of being aware of romance scams. These scams can have a significant impact on your clients, particularly those who are newly single or widowed. Often, these scams go unnoticed until a substantial portion of the victim’s investment funds has already been transferred out of their accounts. As financial professionals, you play a crucial role as the first line of defense in safeguarding your clients' assets from falling into the hands of scammers.

Romance Scam Red Flags

If your client mentions a new “friend” or “partner,” or begins to express sudden interest in new investment opportunities such as cryptocurrency, take note.

They may begin requesting disbursements from their accounts, which can be delayed if considered to be suspicious. Asking questions to determine more information about how the client met this new friend or how they communicate with one another is a good way to open the dialogue and determine if your client could be at risk. If you already have a relationship with a Trusted Contact or another family member, you could bring them into the conversation to ensure they are aware and understand the risks of giving money to or “investing” with unfamiliar people.

How You Can Help!

Get to know your clients to understand what behavior is normal and what is not!  It is crucial to check in with your clients regularly and be on the lookout for any red flags. If you notice an unusual transaction request, don't hesitate to use a disbursement or transaction delay.

Remember our advice from last month's Trusted Contacts newsletter – ensure your clients have a trusted contact listed on their account. This step can help involve the right people early on, ensuring that your clients' investment funds remain secure in their accounts and don't fall into the hands of scammers.