Beware of These Creative Dating Scams

Both the Better Business Bureau and the FBI are warning people of love scams that are expected to remain an increased threat until Valentine’s Day. This type of fraud has worsened during the pandemic, as cases have increased by 18% over the past year, according to the FBI . Here’s what you need to know.

What are romantic scams?

Romance scams occur when a fake online identity is used by a perpetrator to gain the favor and trust of the victim. The fraudster then uses the relationship to manipulate or steal the victim. The BBB recently received warnings about these two specific romances:

  • Cryptocurrency scam : After gaining trust in the online dating platform, the scammer will quickly try to transfer the conversation to a text messaging app such as WhatsApp or WeChat. This is when they bring up a “family member who is a successful cryptocurrency investor” and present an “exclusive” opportunity. They then convince the victim to put money on the cryptocurrency trading platform, which of course will not happen anymore.
  • Money mule scam: In this scam, a scammer from another country will gain trust again and transfer the conversation to a text app. They will then make an unusual request in which they send you money and then ask you to send it back to them overseas. This is often accompanied by a history of failure where their own bank accounts are frozen. However, according to the BBB, funds are likely to be stolen from COVID aid checks and they are laundering funds so they cannot be traced.

Whatever the type of love scam, if something is uncomfortable for you, ask questions. If the other person refuses to give you direct answers, or their tone becomes more accusatory and aggressive, this is a good sign of fraud. A good rule of thumb is to never send money to someone you haven’t met.

The BBB offers the following additional tips to help you avoid dating scams:

  • Chat on a dating app. If a love interest seems to be in a rush to move from a dating app to an insecure chat app, that’s a red flag.
  • Ask specific questions about the details on your profile. A fraudster can get confused by remembering details or coming up with a suitable story.
  • Study your dating profile. Many scammers steal photos from the Internet in order to use them in their profiles. Perform a reverse image search on websites such as tineye.com or images.google.com to see if your profile pictures have been stolen elsewhere. Search the internet for your profile name, email address, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t. If it looks like a fake profile, please report it to the dating app.
  • Be careful with what you post and post online. Scammers can use information posted on social media and dating sites to better understand you and target you.
  • Take your time and ask a lot of questions.
  • Be careful if the person tries to isolate you from friends and family or asks for inappropriate photographs or financial information that could later be used for extortion.
  • Beware if the person can never meet in person or if they always have an excuse why they cannot. If you haven’t met this person after a few months, you have good reason to be suspicious.

If you are a victim of a scam, please report it at BBB.org/AppTracker .

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