On Valentine’s Day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – the principal federal law enforcement agency of the United States – is warning would-be lovers to be wary of “romance scams” that occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust and then then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and then steal from the victim.
“The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable. The scammer’s intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear himself to the victim, and gain trust. Scammers may propose marriage and make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen. Eventually, they will ask for money,” the FBI warned.
Tips for avoiding “romance scams” include being careful what is made public online, researching the photos and profiles using online searches to see if they appear elsewhere, and being wary if the individual promises to meet in person but always comes up with an excuse why he or she cannot meet. People should never send money to anyone they have only communicated with online or by phone.
Scammers who ask for bank account information are likely carrying out identity theft and fraud. People who suspect an online relationship is a scam should stop all contact immediately. Victims of “romance scams” can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). To learn more about “romance scams,” visit www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams.
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