Online Romance Scams will cost you, beware this Valentine’s day

Romance scams happen year round but valentines day can make victims think they are legit
romance scams

We grow up being told not to talk to strangers, but with so many dating apps and websites many look for love online.

But you can’t always be sure who you’re talking to.

“Romance scams, that’s whenever somebody thinks he or she is in love with somebody else, usually these people are going to be meeting online and unfortunately what we’re seeing is a lot of lonely, desperate people who think they’ve found the love of their life after so many years and are then sending these people money” said Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau, Stephanie Garland.

Scammers often groom their victims for long periods of time, they build their trust and then ask them to wire money.

“A lot of times they’re going to start out with smaller amounts like $500 or $1000,  and then once you fall for that they then think it’s easier to scam you again so it’ll continue that cycle” added Garland.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center found that in 2018, 18,000 complaints were filed and $362 million was lost

In 2019, more than 19,000 complaints were filed with $475 million lost. That’s an 8% increase in complaints and a 31% increase in losses over the previous year.

“A typical romance scam in the four states region would be whenever somebody finds someone in the military supposedly or a widower looking for someone to love” said Garland.

We asked on Facebook if any four state residents had fallen victim to romance scams themselves.
Some responses were that “That’s their own stupidity” and  “Like I’m going to fall for someone contacting me on the internet”.

But in reality many have.

The IC3 found that in 2019 Missouri had more than 5,000 victims, Oklahoma had more than 2,000 and Kansas had nearly 2,000.

“If I was just a huge shadow, you couldn’t see what was going on and that was  consistently the case then that’s a huge red flag. If the voice sounded different like there’s a voice software in there, that’s a huge indicator and if it seems too good to be true” added Garland.

She also said that many people fall for these scams because the scammers will invest some money into the person they are talking to, whether it be sending flowers to the persons house, or chocolate.

Especially on Valentines day, sending something romantic whilst still never meeting the person, makes people believe it is legitimate, but scammers are willing to spend a little, knowing they could get thousands of dollars in return.

Some other ways you can look out for fake profiles and scammers are

  • By researching the person
  • Search the image they provide
  • Ask to meet up in a public place, like a police department
  • If they constantly have medical excuses or emergencies as to why they can’t talk anymore or call you on the phone, those are red flags.

Here are some common techniques used by romance scammers, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

  • “Immediate requests to talk or chat on an email or messaging service outside of the dating site.
  • Claims that your introduction was “destiny” or “fate,” especially early in communication.
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently living, working, or traveling abroad.
  • Asks for money, goods, or any similar type of financial assistance, especially if you have never met in person.
  • Asks for assistance with personal transactions (opening new bank accounts, depositing or transferring funds, shipping merchandise, etc.).
  • Reports a sudden personal crisis and pressures you to provide financial assistance. Be especially wary if the demands become increasingly aggressive.
  • Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories.
  • Gives vague answers to specific questions.
  • Claims to be recently widowed or claims to be a U.S. service member serving overseas.
  • Disappears suddenly from the site then reappears under a different name using the same profile information.”

 

If you have given out your credit or debit card information and suspect you are being scammed, cancel your cards.

If you have fallen victim to a romance scam, contact the Better Business Bureau to report it.

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