The number of “romance scam” cases, in which offenders steal money from people they get to know through matchmaking apps for marriage and relationships, is soaring in Japan.

People are increasingly looking for partners through such apps as they have fewer opportunities to go out amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

One expert has warned that it is more difficult for potential victims to escape monetary damage if they choose to trust such offenders and their dubious financial advice.

The number of consultations over faulty investments related to online matchmaking stood at only five in fiscal 2019, according to the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan. But the figure grew to 84 in fiscal 2020 and reached that level only in the first four months of fiscal 2021.

In June this year, a woman in her 30s who lives in the Tohoku region became acquainted through an app with a man who claimed to be a native of Canada and resident of Tokyo.

The woman was drawn to…

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