Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but if an online love interest asks you for money, it’s probably a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives thousands of reports each year about romance scammers who create fake online relationships only to rob their victims.
Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites and chat rooms to meet people, but scammers use them too, and eventually the scammers ask for money.
How to Recognize a Scam
The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:
- wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM
- claims love in a heartbeat
- claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
- plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour
Scammers also like to say they’re out of the country for business or military service.
What You Can Do About It
You may lose your heart, but you don’t have to lose your shirt, too. Don’t wire money to cover:
- medical emergencies
- hotel bills
- hospital bills for a child or other relative
- visas or other official documents
- or losses from a temporary financial setback
Don’t send money to tide someone over after a mugging or robbery, and don’t do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments will follow. In the end, your money will be gone along with the person you thought you knew.
Report relationship scams to:
- The website
- Your bank and/or wire service
- The Federal Trade Commission
- The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Your state Attorney General