Valentine’s Day is for dating and romance, and sometimes it prompts singles to seek help for meeting people online, a situation that prompts scammers to come up with ways of taking advantage of the vulnerable. The Better Business Bureau has come up with ways to recognize potential scams.
A relationship scam starts simply. Two people meet online, usually through a dating site. They email, trade pictures, talk on the phone, and soon they’re making plans to meet…maybe even get married. But as the bonds get stronger, things start to change.
Dating sites offer convenience and anonymity, which is just what scammers need. You may feel you get to know someone through photos, email or chatting, but it’s easy for a person to conceal the truth online. Many people find true love, but here are some red flags to watch for that indicate you may be dealing with a scammer, or “catfishing.” Be wary of anyone who:
Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service: This allows fraudsters to scam without the dating site having a record of the encounter. Scammers play on emotion.
Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad: Scammers have all kinds of excuses why they can’t meet in person. Be cautious of people who claim to be called away suddenly or in the military and overseas.
Asks you for money or credit information: A scammer will claim an emergency, like a sick relative or stolen wallet, and will ask you to wire money. The first is small but the requests keep growing. They may ask for airfare to come and visit. Then the money’s gone, and so are they.
Sends emails with questionable links to a third-party: Third-party links can contain malware to steal personal information off your computer. Scammers may use third party links that look credible but they only link to computer viruses and identity theft.