Happy Valentine’s Day! This day can evoke different feelings for different people. Some lavish in red hearts and flowers, while others chalk it up to nothing more than a “Hallmark” holiday. Whatever your feelings are on Valentine’s Day, especially during these hard days of COVID, I encourage you to use it as an opportunity to remind yourself that you deserve to be loved, not just by other people, but by you. For those who are seeking a meaningful relationship, please read this month’s advice about online dating. While many have found online dating successful, others have become victims of online scammers professing their love and devotion. And with new technology that makes our lives easier, that same technology is making it easier for fraudulent lovers to pull off one of the fastest growing internet scams.
Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. That’s up about 50% from 2019! Often these sweetheart scams begin on dating sites, but more and more these scams begin on social media sites and online games like ‘Words with Friends” and others.
Scammers may even troll obituaries to find a potential victim. This is often a time when a person’s guard is down and grief and the need for social support is acute, that provides a perfect opportunity for a sweetheart scam.
Unfortunately, many of the cases we see in our office involve domestic violence. If you have experienced abuse, loving and caring for yourself might mean seeking support or counseling. The Rose Andom Center is an excellent resource center that facilitates access to multiple services for support. No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, I hope that you begin today and each day by loving yourself.
Don’t forget to sign up for these newsletters that come right to your personal email. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “subscribe” in the subject line. If you think you have been scammed call our Fraud Hotline at 720-913-9179.
When looking for love, here are some red flags to watch out for:
1. Check for inconsistencies within their profile or with what they tell you. Make sure their personal story stays consistent.
2. If the person is quick to suggest you to “go off line” outside of the dating website, be wary. If you connect through Facebook or other social websites, you may be sharing more of your personal information than you want or should.
3. Never provide any personal information like your Social Security number or banking information. If they ask for it, that’s a big red flag.
4. Your new love is professing their undying love quickly.
5. Watch for spelling errors and poor grammar that may indicate that the person may be operating off shore.
CHECK OUT THESE OTHER TIPS ON ROMANCE SCAMS ON THE FTC WEBSITE