The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning the public of romance scams ahead of Valentine’s Day. The FBI says these romance scams occur when criminal actors trick their victims into believing that they are in a trusting relationship. This relationship is then used to convince the victims to send money, give out personal financial information or purchase items for them.
See: 5 Essential Tips for Spotting and Avoiding Online Scams
Find: How to Prevent Fraud With Your Bank Account
Data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) shows that in 2020 alone, victims who filed complaints lost more than $281 million to romance scams. While complaints were reported from all demographics, elderly women were typically targeted the most often.
According to the FBI, here are some warning signs that someone may be attempting to deceive you in a romance scheme:
Immediate attempts to communicate outside of a dating site.
Claims to be from the U.S. but is living or traveling abroad.
Says that being introduced was “fate.”
Has a sudden personal crisis and asks for financial assistance.
Disappears from a site and reappears using a different name.
Asks for money, financial assistance or goods without having met in person.
Another Scam Alert: You Could Find Out If You Were the Victim of Unemployment Fraud this Tax Season
To avoid becoming a victim, the FBI recommends:
Never send money to someone you met online.
Never give out financial information without verifying their identity.
Never share your Social Security number or other personally identifiable information with anyone who doesn’t need to know that information.
Be careful what you share online.
Don’t rush an online relationship.
Report any activity to the IC3 if you believe that you’re a victim of a romance scam. If you see suspicious transactions, contact your financial institution immediately. You should also report this activity to the website or application where the initial contact was made.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Don’t Let These Romance Scams Taint Your Valentine’s Day, FBI Warns
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