NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, but so are scams. With the National Retail Federation predicting consumer spending to soar to nearly $26 billion — which is about $80 per person — in the U.S., con artists are ready to take advantage of the romantic atmosphere.
“Valentine’s Day should be a time of love and connection, but unfortunately, scammers see it as an opportunity to prey on unsuspecting individuals,” said Robyn Householder, president and CEO of BBB serving Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.
The BBB said consumers need to remain vigilant and educate themselves about common Valentine’s scams, including those listed below:
According to the BBB, impostor websites pop up across the internet during the holiday season, offering “unbeatable deals on jewelry and enticing promises on dating sites,” which is why consumers should be cautious about extreme discounts, payment requests involving cash transfer apps or cryptocurrency, and unreachable customer service.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of these scams, you need to thoroughly scrutinize websites and verify their authenticity before making any purchases.
With plenty of people looking for love around Valentine’s Day, romance scammers are poised to prey on vulnerable individuals by exploiting their emotions and trust.
Officials said these con artists will take advantage of those seeking companionship or romance on dating websites, apps, chat rooms, and social networking sites, but their true goal is to get access to victims’ financial or personal identifying information.
“Romance scams are prevalent, especially during this time of year, and the consequences are often financially and emotionally devastating to victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office.
According to experts, romance scammers will often accelerate relationships, avoid meeting in person, and eventually request money under the guise of various excuses, all while promising love, passion, and a lifetime of happiness.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said 19,021 victims across the U.S. lost a combined $735,882,192 to romance scams in 2022, including 331 Tennesseans who lost a total of $8,892,488 — and those are just the victims who came forward to report their losses.
If you want to protect your heart — and your bank account — from being broken by a romance scammer, follow these tips from the BBB and the FBI:
- Be careful what you post online.
- Only use dating apps with national reputations, but still assume scammers are trolling those websites for potential victims.
- Research the person’s pictures and profile using online search tools to make sure they didn’t spoof someone else’s profile.
- Take relationships slow.
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
- If you suspect a scam, cut off contact immediately.
- Report scams to the FBI at IC3.gov.
Fake Florist Scam
While ordering Valentine’s flowers for your significant other, your friend, or your family member should bring joy, consumers need to be cautious about fake florist scams.
The BBB said phony florists often have no reviews or negative reviews, lack clear return policies or satisfaction guarantees, and offer deals that seem too good to be true.
To guarantee your flowers are delivered successfully, you should research businesses thoroughly, as well as rely on reputable florists with positive customer feedback.
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“We are always available to help. Please send us an email email@example.com or give us a call at 615-242-4222 and we will assist in any way we can,” Householder said.
Consumers are encouraged to report suspected fraud by visiting BBB.org/Scamtracker, and contacting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at reportfraud.ftc.gov or 877-FTC-Help.