Des Moines — Romance scams are on the rise, and it’s important to take steps to protect yourself to make sure your dream does not become a nightmare this Valentine’s Day.

Millions of people use online dating apps and dream of meeting that perfect someone.  Unfortunately, scammers use these same apps to defraud unwary investors.

“Romance scams are one of the most common scams we see in our in our office,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said.  “Protect yourself by paying attention to the warning signs and if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

romance scam occurs when a scammer pretends to be romantically interested in someone to gain their trust and take their money.  The rise of digital ecosystems have allowed romance scams to flourish in new ways, with scammers using dating apps and even online games to try to develop fake romantic relationships to gain victims’ trust.  Scammers then use the illusion of romance or intimacy to manipulate or steal from the victim.

Scammers will use various tricks to come across as genuine, but one telltale sign that you are communicating with a scammer is if they refuse to meet in person.  Often, the scammer will conveniently live outside the United States or work overseas.  Eventually, the person will ask for money for an amazing business opportunity, so that they can invest your money, or even for a medical emergency.  They may ask you to send funds through a wire transfer or ask for your bank account details.  Sometimes they ask victims to send the money in cryptocurrency.  These con artists are on most dating and social media sites.

Visit for more tips and resources related to scams facing Iowans.

If you or someone you know has been scammed, help yourself and others by reporting it to the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212.