BBB Offers Tips to Help Protect Your Heart: Watch out for Romance Scams this Valentine’s Day, and Year-Round

February 09, 2017

DENVER, CO — Technological advances in online dating and social media have made it easier to connect with people and potentially make a match, but these advances have also made things more available for scammers. Dating sites offer convenience and anonymity, which is just what scammers need.

You might think you know someone well through an exchange of photos, emails, or chat/messaging conversations, but it’s simple to conceal the truth when hiding behind a keyboard. Many scammers create fake profiles on online dating sites, stealing photos and text from real accounts or elsewhere, and may have any number of reasons why they can’t meet in person. After building a strong rapport, the scammer might have a health issue or family emergency, or merely wish to finally visit! The solution? Sending the sweetheart some money! Generally this first request, if fulfilled, is not enough, and is followed by another request, and then another, or else communication ends completely.

Prospective partners might be waving obvious red flags (pay attention) if:

  • They always postpone meeting. A real love interest will want to see you in person. Be wary of someone who is constantly "traveling" or happens to be overseas.
  • Their profile is fishy. Plenty of people fib a little in their dating profile. Be on the lookout for big discrepancies, such as a written description of a specific hair color that doesn’t match the photo presented. Be suspicious of Facebook profiles with few friends, many grammatical errors, or a recent “joined on” date.
  • They’re traveling, living or working elsewhere. Scammers of this sort often claim to be from the U.S., but purport to be traveling, temporarily working or living elsewhere, or stationed overseas.
  • They ask for money or credit card information. Scammers often claim an emergency such as a sick relative, or a lost or stolen wallet, and will ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer may be minor but the requests keep coming.  

Additional Resource: More information is available from the U.S. State Department.