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Don't Fall for Romance Scams: Protect Your Heart and Wallet


As Valentine's Day approaches, many people are looking forward to celebrating with their loved ones and significant others. However, for some, this romantic holiday can lead to heartbreak and financial loss due to romance scams. Romance scams have become an increasingly common form of online fraud in recent years. These scams typically involve criminals posing as potential romantic partners on online dating sites or social media platforms, intending to build a relationship with their victims to gain their trust and ultimately scam them out of money or personal information.

The tactics used by these scammers can be sophisticated and convincing, and victims often find themselves in situations where they have invested significant time and emotional energy into a relationship that turns out to be entirely fake. So, how can you protect yourself from falling victim to a romance scam? Below we have highlighted a few red flags to look out for when approaching online relationships and how to identify if it is a scam.

They “fall in love” quickly. If you begin talking to someone online and they seem to be trying to quickly move the relationship along, this is a common tactic of a scammer. They will often tell you that they “love you” and try to get you emotionally connected to the “idea” of them. This will help them scam you out of money or personal information faster.

You can't find information about them online. The internet is full of information! Go out and do your research. If this person is who they say they are, you should be able to verify that by doing extensive online research.

They are always traveling or live far away. Conveniently the person you are communicating with is not local or is always traveling. This gives them a great excuse as to why they can’t meet you in person.  Many times, they may even center their persona around being a soldier or specialized worker overseas, with the hope of gaining sympathy from their victim and creating urgency in the transaction.

They refuse to meet in person or video chat. Often you will notice that when you ask to meet this person or try to do a video chat, they will always have an excuse as to why they can’t meet. They may initially agree to the meeting, but something will always come up and they will have to back out of the meeting. This more than likely means they are hiding behind a fake persona.

Scammers ask for personal information or money. There are different end goals for a scammer in a potential romance scam, but normally it comes down to two things: to get money out of you or to get your personal information to steal your identity. Never disclose your personal information, like your home address or banking information, to someone you’ve just met online, and certainly never send money to someone you do not know. In elaborate cases, this “relationship” can go along for months before the scammer asks a favor and can happen with any age group.

If you do fall victim to a romance scam, it's important to report it to the authorities and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as soon as possible. This can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam. Romance scams are a serious and growing problem, and it's important to be vigilant and protect yourself when meeting new people online. By following the tips outlined above, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to a romance scam and stay safe online. You can learn more and report any instances of fraud on the official website of the FTC, https://consumer.ftc.gov/

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