Protecting your heart and wallet from romance scammers ahead of Valentine’s Day

The FBI warns you to stay on the lookout for romance scams ahead of Valentine's Day
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 6:37 AM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - When you’re swiping right on a dating app or simply going through your social media messages, the FBI said some people are not looking to steal your heart but your money.

The FBI shared that early numbers show Americans lost more than $730 million to romance scams in 2022 but said that number is likely to increase when their completed Internet Crime Complaint Center report comes out.

Romance scammers will try to build a connection with you and gain your trust but ultimately exploit you for money or personal information.

The agency said you should look out for these common red flags:

· The scammer avoids meeting you in person.

· The scammer asks for financial help.

· The scammer asks for money in ways that are hard to trace back (ex. Gift cards)

· The scammer may ask to leave the dating site or social media to communicate directly.

Kevin Wheeler, the FBI’s South Carolina spokesperson said there are a few ways to protect your heart and your wallet.

“It’s very important that you pay close attention to the things that they are telling you, the things that they may be requesting from you, and to cut off any communication from anybody that you think is suspicious of committing these scams,” said Wheeler.

Here are some other tips the FBI shared on how to protect yourself from romance scammers:

· Be careful what you post and make public online.

· Conduct a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see where it came from

· Take things slow and ask a lot of questions.

· Never send money to someone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

“They look for those small details about what someone may like or the things people like to eat or whatever it may be. They’re using that information to gain more insight as to who you are so that they can use it against you,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler said when it comes to social media it’s best to only accept friend requests from people you know.

He also said if you think you’ve been scammed, tell your bank, and the police and report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by clicking here.