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Valentine's Blog (2)

Romance and dating scams are an increasing phenomenon as new applications and websites are introduced and more people turn to the internet to find love. It is possible that while swiping right on potential partners you may match with a fraudster.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that consumers reportedly lost over $547 million in 2021 to dating scams alone.

Scammers often create fake profiles on dating apps or social media platforms to find a connection with their soon to be victim. Using this persona, the swindler will build a personal relationship with their target leading them to believe the two have developed a genuine connection. After solidifying a relationship, the scammers make up stories intended to defraud their fake love interest out of money or other economic resources.

So today on Valentine’s Day and in support of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s (OCABR) mission to protect and empower consumers, we have compiled a list of warning signs to watch out for while searching for love online.

Always watch out for:

  • A new match that is constantly trying to avoid in person dates, meet ups, or video chats by saying things like they work or temporarily live outside of the United States.
  • Persistent requests to communicate outside of the secure messaging service or dating application you met on.
  • Requests by your online crush for money, gift cards, or cryptocurrency in response to a crisis or emergency event, such as: paying medical bills, traveling, or housing.

Avoid a potential romance scam by:

  • Limiting the amount of information that is easily accessible online through social media profiles. Scammers can use these details to find victims and create a stronger connection.
  • Taking the time to get to know the person you are chatting with online and research their profile information to make sure they are legitimate.
  • Performing a reverse image search to see if the pictures shared with you match the name and other details provided by your online mate.
  • Declining all requests to send money or other goods to anyone you have only met virtually.

If you suspect an online date of fraud or a scam, cut off all communication immediately, consider informing your family and friends about the incident, and most importantly report the scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you sent your romantic interest gift cards, contact the company that issued the card  and ask for a refund.  OCABR provides resources about identity theft and fraud online in addition to hosting information sessions for residents.  Visit the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s website for more scam resources or to register for upcoming events.

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