If you wanted the Federal Trade Commission's take on Valentine's Day, here it is: Beware of getting scammed seeking love online. The warning comes via the agency's latest revelation, which cites more than 21,000 reports of people getting swindled by internet "paramours" in 2018, NPR reports. Their wallets got crushed along with their hearts, to the tune of $143 million, which was more than any other type of consumer fraud that the FTC identified last year. For context, the agency reported that just three years earlier, 8,500 people filed reports, noting $33 million in losses.
The median amount that individual people lost in 2018 was $2,600, though that number spiked for people 70 and over: $10,000. Meanwhile, those ages 40 to 69 lost more than double what 20-somethings did. A word of advice from the FTC: Don't give money to someone you've "met" only on the computer, and don't ignore any nagging red flags that pop up during conversations, like shifting stories. If you do think you've been the victim of this particular type of "imposter scam" (or another kind), the agency has some resources to help. (The women allegedly scammed by the "Cupid of Chaos" can relate.)