Federal Bureau of Investigation warns of online romance scams ahead of Valentine's Day


Watch out if they try to lure you off the dating site. After a time, the fraudster asked for several hundred dollars to help with his daughter's schooling.

The BBB has reported that at any given moment there are 25,000 fraudsters online.

The BBB has recommended that dating sites and social media should be more proactive when it comes to screening, identifying, and removing profiles used for scams. Around 500,000 of the 3.5 million profiles scanned every month by one dating company are frauds, according to the BBB.

Apparently, after getting the unsuspecting victim's trust, the online romance scammer's real motives started to show as he started asking her for money. The scammers often portray themselves as USA military members, prompting complaints to military officials. Some victims have been asked for money to pay for costly medical bills following "accidents" or "illnesses". The woman, referred to as "Hope", said she was contacted by a man named "Paul Dreyer" who claimed to be an engineer working overseas on a contract.

The scammer then asks for money to get out of a bind so they can finally be together.

"We believe this is an underreported crime because victims are often too embarrassed to come forward", Temmer said.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the victim most commonly targeted in these scams tend to be women over the age of 50-years-old, however it can happen to anyone.

Officials warn of online dating scams
Scam watch: Fraudsters turn to romance to con victims

The BBB finds there is no "typical" victim of romance fraud.

Officials added that scammers may use Valentine's Day as a way to pull at heart strings to extract money.

Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money.

According to Bridget Patton, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kansas City, women who are older, divorced, or widowed are the most common targets of romance scammers. Don't succumb to pleas of financial crisis.

Do your research by pouring over the profile image and description. Also, run their profile picture through a search engine like Google - that way, you can see if it pops up on other sites.

"Scammers use tactics like creating realistic online profiles, using fake photos and sharing information that appears genuine", he said.

Many use scripted sets of emails to develop online relationships, with many victims receiving text messages daily, and work on isolating victims from friends or family who might alert them that they are involved in a fraud.

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