How to avoid heartaches associated with romance scams
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
They may seem like the right fit for you, but one wrong move could cost you online.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it receives thousands of reports about romance scams each year.
“You’re really not meeting the people who you think you’re meeting, so it’s really a mess,” said Harvey Proctor.
“I think there are some pictures that are obviously not credible,” said Mikhail Klimentov.
In 2016, the FBI received nearly 15,000 complaints about romance scams, resulting in losses totaling more than $230 million.
“Number one tip, if an online love interest is asking you for money, that’s a scam,” said Patti Poss, who is an attorney with the FTC.
To avoid empty promises and an empty bank account, federal officials advise that you take things slow and make sure everything checks out online and in-person.
“If you sign up for match.com, they actually say don’t give anyone your credit card, don’t give anyone your personal information,” said Reese Everson.
Last year, a Maryland man was sentenced to four years in prison for laundering millions of dollars from men and women he met online.
Other tips from FBI:
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask a lot of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests. inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, file a complaint online at www.ic3.gov.