• August 7, 2020

BBB: Romance scams - Odessa American: BBB Column

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BBB: Romance scams

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Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020 6:00 am

Love is in the air, and romantics are getting ready for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it can be a lonely time for some, which prompts many to turn to the internet in search of that special someone. Online dating has helped many find their forever partner, but it can also be a vehicle to help scammers find their targets.

Romance scams can be very tricky, because the scammers take time to create a relationship with the victim. Sometimes this can mean weeks – or even month — of communication. These scammers create profiles with fake names and stolen pictures, then reach out to their targets over social media, email or dating apps. They gain their target’s trust, quickly develop a relationship, and eventually ask for money, often claiming to have a sudden emergency or wanting to use the money to travel to the victim.

Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been claimed in loss to romance scams, and victims can be left heartbroken and in financial straits. Use these tips from your Better Business Bureau to keep yourself safe from romance scams as you look for love this Valentine’s Day:

Know the signs. Staying educated on the red flags of a romance scam can help prevent you from becoming victim to one. Someone who is in a hurry to get off the dating site and wants to move the relationship along quickly may have suspect motives. Never wanting to meet and hard-luck stories of sick relatives or financial troubles are also signs of a scam.

Don’t send money to strangers. Even if they have a sad story, refrain from sending money to someone you haven’t met in person. This includes sharing your credit card information with someone so they may purchase a plane ticket to see you. If someone starts asking for your personal or financial information, it is best to cut off contact.

Ask specific questions. Take a good look at the profile and ask them specific questions about the details you see. A scammer may not be paying attention to the small details and could stumble when answering or trying to make their story fit.

Do your research. A common tactic of scammers is to steal photos from the internet. If you are suspicious of someone you are chatting with, try using reverse image search with their photo and see what results come up.

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