Chicago, Ill. – February 13, 2013– Valentine’s Day is a day for romance, but it can also be an
opportune time for scammers to take advantage of those looking for love online.
Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to proceed with caution before
letting their hearts – and their money – get stolen. Perhaps you’ve seen the
documentary “Catfish”, or the MTV reality show of the same name. A “Catfish” is
someone using social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue
deceptive online romances.
scams can happen to anyone. You meet a great person online, everything seems to
be going great but you aren't able to meet yet for some reason (distance,
military deployment, work travel, etc.). Suddenly your online love interest has
an emergency and asks you to wire money. If you do, he or she may continue to
find more reasons to ask for money from you…or may disappear. Sometimes the catfish’s victim is
asked to receive funds from the victim of another scam and rewire it to the
provides a great opportunity to expand your social network,” said Steve J.
Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
“However, we must remember that people may not be who they seem to be online,
it’s extremely important to use the internet wisely.”
BBB and Western Union have partnered to offer consumers tips on
how to avoid scams. Here are some ways to stay safe from relationship scams:
- Be on your guard. Only send money to people you have met in
person. Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you
correspond with them via email or phone. Be especially wary of anyone who
asks you to leave the dating website immediately to continue your
conversation through email or IM, as this allows fraudsters to carry out
their scam without the dating site having a record of your encounter.
- Be cautious if someone claims to be local but is
currently out of the country. Fraudsters could be operating from
overseas, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down.
Never give your banking information to people that you have not met in
person or businesses that you don’t know.
- Always verify every emergency situation before
sending money. Fraudsters
can trick their victims in a variety of ways. Sometimes they instantly
express feelings of love and other times they lead their victims on for a
while. No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real
thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information
like credit card, bank or government ID numbers or to send money.
Visit BBB’s website for more information on scams at www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose
of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help
resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and
arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and
charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and
nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity
before making a purchase or donation.