FBI warns of romance scam ahead of Valentine’s Day
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (WCSC) — The FBI is urging attention to scammers posing as people seeking long-term relationships so they can prey on their victims.
As scammers get closer to their potential victims, they start trying to convince them to send money or buy them gifts.
The FBI’s Columbia office issued a warning Thursday ahead of Valentine’s Day, saying that in 2020, victims lost more than $281 million to romance scams, according to complaints filed with the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
South Carolina reported losses of more than $4.4 million that year.
FBI spokesman Kevin Wheeler said the programs affected victims across all demographics, but older women tended to be the most targeted.
The FBI provides the following warning signs to help identify possible romance scams:
- Try communicating via email or messaging services other than dating sites now
- Claiming to be from the U.S. but currently living or traveling abroad
- Claiming to be introduced as “Fate” or “Fate”
- Report a sudden personal crisis and compel you to provide financial help
- Suddenly disappeared from the site, but reappeared under a different name
- Requesting money, goods, or other types of financial assistance without meeting in person
The best way to prevent romance scams is education and awareness.
- Never send money to someone you know online, especially by wire transfer.
- Never give your bank or credit card information to others without verifying the recipient’s identity.
- Never share your Social Security number or other personally identifiable information with people who don’t need to know the information
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to get to know you better and target you.
- Use an online search to research the person’s photo and profile to see if the image, name or details have been used elsewhere.
- Take your time and ask each other a lot of questions.
If you believe you are the victim of such a scam, please report the activity to the FBI at the Complaint Center.
If you spot a fraudulent or suspicious transaction, you should also contact your bank and report the activity to the website or app you started contacting with in the first place.
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