Romance scam tricks victims into laundering federal funds | Local News

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People who seek love via a dating app should be careful and watch for scammers who only love money.

CARES Act funding is helping Americans with the COVID-19 pandemic by providing increased unemployment benefits and other support. But unfortunately, some of this money is ending up in the hands of scammers. These con artists are then using people to funnel money out of the country. This con may look like a classic romance scam, but victims are tricked into illegal activity and can be prosecuted.

How the scam works

You join a dating app and start messaging with someone who looks amazing. They are the complete package: good-looking, successful, kind, and most importantly, really into you, too. After chatting for a little while, your new love interest suggests that you chat on text or email, rather than through the app. If you do that, you may notice that they also delete their dating profile.

Everything seems great, but soon your new beau has some unusual – but seemingly harmless – requests. They want you to receive money for them and wire it overseas. They may claim to be helping a loved one battling COVID-19, doing a business deal or representing a charitable organization. If you refuse, your amorous new beau may suddenly get hostile, threaten you or grow distant.

It turns out that the money they want you to receive is actually stolen CARES Act funds. After stealing it, scammers send the money through someone in the United States to make it harder for authorities to trace. Money laundering and wire fraud are illegal. Although the “money mule” is a victim, too, they may still face prosecution.