Bipartisan bill cracks down on dating app scams that cost victims over $1 billion a year

FIRST ON FOX: House lawmakers are eyeing legislation to make dating app users more aware of potential scammers who tricked victims out of more than $1 billion in a single year. 

Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., is reintroducing his Online Dating Safety Act this week alongside Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo.

If passed the bill would force dating apps and services to send users a fraud notification when they have interacted with someone banned from the app for using a fake identity or using the app to defraud others. 

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“It is alarmingly easy for predators online to lie about their identity and manipulate innocent people,” Valadao told Fox News Digital. “While we can’t stop all criminals from abusing these platforms, the Online Dating Safety Act is an important step to enhance online safety, combat fraud and help people make more informed decisions.”

Pettersen called dating apps “a new frontier for criminals and scammers looking to exploit vulnerable individuals online and regulations are lagging behind.”

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“Notifying users if they have been in contact with a potential scammer is a basic security feature that every online dating service should provide,” Pettersen said.

Nearly 70,000 people reported being the victims of a romance scam in 2022, according to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report from earlier this year. 

The median loss was $4,400, according to the report, with total losses at roughly $1.3 billion.

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Nearly a quarter of reported victims said the scammer told them that they or someone close to them are sick, hurt or in jail, the FTC report said, making it the most common reason listed.

The second and third most popular scam was being offered insights or lessons on how to invest money, followed by claims of being in the military.

Forty percent of people scammed said they were first contacted on social media, followed by 19% on apps or websites.

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