Love is a complicated emotion. And if you fall for a romance scam it will be a losing proposition. When Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, Valentine’s Day scams move into high gear.
According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, romance scams of all types increased sharply over the last few years. The statistics show that in the United States alone, victims reported more than 21,000 romance scams to the authorities in 2018. This is a sharp increase from 2017, when the figure stood at 16,900. Over this period, reported losses rose from $88 million to $143 million. Results for 2019 are still unavailable but if the trend continues, you can bet that things will only get worse.
Don’t Trust What They Tell You
Romance scammers generally source their victims online through dating sites, apps and social media. They misrepresent themselves by using fake names, fake photos and fake profiles. Scammers slowly build trust with their victims over a period of time. Once victims fall in love with the scammer, they’ll be willing to comply with any request. At this stage, the scammer moves for the kill and requests money through wire transfers, gift cards or cryptocurrencies.
The lead up to Valentine’s Day provides the perfect cover for cybercriminals to set the trap. By hiding out among the many legitimate dating websites, scammers conceal their true intentions and make their move.
Other Examples of Valentine’s Day Scams
Flower Delivery Scams
On or just before Valentine’s Day the victim receives an email or phone call from a supposed florist. The fake florist will then ask the victim to provide a little bit of information to assist with a flower delivery from a secret admirer. Using sophisticated techniques the scammer is able to obtain personal or financial information for fraud and identification theft.
Scammer often send an innocent looking Valentine’s Day eCard to victims. The victims, in their excitement, will open the eCard without thinking of what might happen next. The eCard, however, will include malware or links to dodgy websites designed to steal your personal information.
Tough Love – How to Avoid Falling for a Valentine’s Day Scam
The best advice to avoid becoming a victim of Valentine’s Day scams is to trust your instincts. We all have a built-in system to detect a threat. If it sounds too good to be true, don’t ignore your internal warning signals. Below are a few points to keep from getting scammed when looking for love on Valentine’s Day.
- Stay away from stories that are designed to pull at your heart strings sent by strangers requesting money
- Never share your personal information such as usernames, passwords, bank account details, or credit card numbers with strangers
- Don’t send money or gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person
- When conversing online, take your time to evaluate the people you speak with; evaluate responses and look out for inconsistencies in their stories
- Call to verify a request from someone you know; don’t rely on social media messages
- If you suspect a romance scam, immediately cut off contact and notify the site