Online romance scams costing millions


Valentine's Day is a day filled with love, but police are warning people to be on the lookout for romance scams.

Also a good time for a reminder from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to the lovelorn that the world is full of scammers out there trying to use love to separate you from your money.

Online romance scams can leave a person with more than heartache.

However, online dating, social media and apps have all made it easier for scammers to strike.

The research shows that all types of people - male, female, young, old, straight, gay - can be victims of romance scams.

"If you meet someone online and they are always coming up with a reason not to meet, that's a trigger", Clingingsmith said.

Most romance scams begin via social media or online dating sites and it's not unusual for the suspect to never meet the victim face to face.

Over the previous year, the BBB says around one million Americans have been victimized by romance fraud and scammers have taken home close to $1 billion.

The woman claims that within a week of contact, the man said he would relocate to Kentucky once he returned from overseas even though they had never talked over the phone.

Do not share any personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you've just met online.

A San Francisco woman who didn't want to be identified told KTVU about a scammer that impersonated a military service member to lure her into an online relationship. "Once the fraudsters contact potential victims, they quickly try to move them off the dating sites to more private communications through email and text messages".

Even if targets realize they have been victims of a scam, the fraud may continue with a new scam pretending to help them get their money back.

At any one time, there may be 25,000 scammers online working with victims.

Protect your identity and your wallet - Scammers prefer prepaid cards and money transfers. You can do the same thing with the person's picture, search it on Google to be sure it's legitimate. Likewise, never send compromising photos or videos with which he can later use to blackmail you.

The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission estimate that so-called romance fraud causes the greatest dollar loss of any fraud or scam that affects individuals, with the exception of investment fraud. You can perform a reverse image search to see if the profile photo has been used on other websites.

And then comes the kicker - he asks you for money.

Ask specific questions about details given in a profile.