CA victims taken for more than $30M in 'romance scams'

CA victims taken for more than $30M in 'romance scams'

MBIE consumer protection manager Mark Hollingsworth says online scams are prevalent on Valentine's Day and are not always obvious.

An estimated 82,000 USA consumers who've used dating sites in the past 3 years have been scammed by individuals who shower them with compliments, romantic text messages and promised dates, only to bilk them for money, the Better Business Bureau said Tuesday.

The Better Business Bureau, BBB, recently released a study that shows around 1 million Americans have fallen victim to romance fraud scams. “Romance scam victims may be male or female, young or old, straight or gay.”. Says he loves you first thing...

Scammers often pretend to be USA military members, asking victims to wire money for "leave" or for healthcare.

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.

"Scammers typically use a false identity to capture your interest and build an emotional connection by revealing personal information, sending gifts or promising to visit - this is commonly known as catfishing". Be hesitant if the conversation moves from a monitored site like social media or a dating site to a more private form of communication like email or instant messaging. In fact, in three years of BBB Scam Tracker data in western Virginia, scammers have attempted to steal $250,000, and successfully nabbed $156,000 in online romance scams.

A fake law enforcement officer may reach out to say the scammer has been caught and the victims can get their money.

Once money is paid, the scammer may promise to come to the U.S, continue the relationship in person and marry the victim.

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Once the scammers have gained the person's trust, they will ask for money, often under the pretext of some kind of emergency. You can report this, and any other scam, to BBB's Scam tracker at bbb.org/ScamTracker.

Be safe in your search for love, look out for your friends and family, and if it sounds too good to be true, be wary.

A tip-off that someone may be trying to scam you is inconsistencies between what they tell you and what they post online, vague messages, and the use of a stock photo in their profile.

Ask specific questions about details given in a profile.

Do your research. Pour over the profile image and description.

"Scammers use tactics like creating realistic online profiles, using fake photos and sharing information that appears genuine", he said.

Report it. If you feel like you've been victimized, report it to BBB's ScamTracker, the Federal Trade Commission and FBI.

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