With Valentine’s Day just days away, the Better Business Bureau advises people looking to start new relationships to watch out for romance scams. This is a scheme wherein unscrupulous individuals look to defraud people by pretending to be a love interest and playing on emotions for their own financial gain. This type of scam usually occurs via email or social media but can also happen through established online dating services. Romance scams are a double whammy, they hit victims financially and emotionally, and the consequences are often devastating.
Romance schemes can target anyone, but often target older individuals, those who are new to the Internet or not as tech-savvy. The relationship generally develops online or over the phone, when people either respond to fake online profiles or are contacted by a scammer in response to an ad they posted. Conversations begin online and things can progress quickly, which is why it’s important to take things slow. Scammers prey on emotion and they’re good at telling people what they want – or hope – to hear.
A huge red flag for people seeking relationships online is any request for funds. Sometimes scammers who have struck up virtual relationships will ask for money to buy an airplane ticket, so the couple can “finally” meet. However, these requests are nothing more than a gateway to further requests, as the scammer comes up with reasons they can’t make the trip, such as an illness, a sick relative or supposedly losing their job. A good rule is to never send money to someone you’ve never met in person. Another good rule is to remember that someone who cares about you will not ask you to place yourself in financial jeopardy for them or put you in a difficult position.
People going online or using online dating services to meet romantic interests should be leery of:
For those in search of love online, BBB offers the following tips:
Many romance scams never get reported because of the victim’s embarrassment but it is important to remember that these scammers have been perfecting this con for many years and over time, they have gotten very good at their trade.
For more trustworthy tips from the BBB, visit bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site:www.bbb.org or E-mail: email@example.com