KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Love may be in the air with Valentine’s Day approaching, but you’ll want to take a second look at Cupid if that someone special comes calling through your computer.
The FBI warns this is the time when people are looking for love and could be more likely to fall for a romance scam. These scams happen when a stranger creates a fake online identity and uses it to lure someone into a relationship, or to manipulate or steal from the victim.
Agents warn these scammers are experts at what they do and will seem genuine and caring. They will prey on someone’s loneliness to exploit the victim.
According to the FBI, these con artists and scammers can be found on most dating sites as well as on every popular social media app.
A con artist’s only goal is to establish a relationship with the victim and gain trust as quickly as possible. They will always end up asking for money for one reason or another.
These are some red flags that you are communicating with a scammer:
- Person is involved with projects outside of the U.S. and can’t meet face-to-face
- Asks for money because of a medical emergency or unexpected legal fee
- Asks for your bank account information to deposit money into your account
The FBI also provides the following tips for avoiding romance scams:
- Be careful what you post online. Scammers use the details shared online to target you.
- Research the person’s photo and profile. If the same image, name, or details have been used elsewhere, the person may be a scammer.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- If the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly, it may be a scam.
- If the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information, the FBI says the info could be used later to extort you.
- If the individual promises to meet in person but always comes up with an excuse to postpone or cancel, use it as a warning.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
If you have experienced any of these situations, or know of someone who has, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.