Valentine’s Day is this Wednesday and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says some scammers are ready to make you feel special and loved all in an effort to open up your wallet.
All of a sudden it gets really romantic really fast. They start saying, “I love you,” and then all of a sudden, they start asking for money.
Amie Mitchell is the CEO of the BBB of Eastern Oklahoma. The nonprofit is warning people of romance scams.
“They never want to see you in person. It turns out this is just a scammer sitting behind a computer hoping to get some money out of you. They’re willing to take all the time it takes to get a couple hundred dollars out of you if you can,” Mitchell said.
The BBB said romance scams have been popping up for years, especially on dating apps like Tinder.
They’re very similar to what happened to Nev Schulman in the MTV show “Catfish.” But the biggest group of victims come from women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s.
At first, there is no talk about any money being exchanged whatsoever. You may even share pics and stories of yourselves, but once the scammer feels there is a connection there, that’s when the life of the person you’ve fallen for just falls to pieces.
“’I ended up in the ER. I got pulled over. I have to pay a ticket. I have no groceries.’ Whatever it might be. Anything that pulls at your heartstrings. You’ll be like, ‘OK I’ll send you 20 bucks,’ but then 20 bucks turns into one hundred next time, then two hundred. But you think you’re falling in love with this person so everything will be fine. When in reality, they’re just trying to see how much money they can get out of you.” Mitchell warned.
The BBB advises you to try your best to verify you are talking to a real person.
Be skeptical of giving money to someone you’ve never met, even if they’ve said all the right things in a chat, in a text or on the phone in a voice call.
Try to do a video call to see if you can see the face of who you’re dealing with.
Over time, ask questions about the same moment in the other person’s life. If they can’t keep their stories straight, that is big warning sign.
Even if you don’t send money, romance scammers also ask for your personal information they need to help them in other ways financially.
And be suspicious of prepaid gift cards and debit cards and requests for wire transfers.
This doesn’t even have to happen on dating websites and dating apps. There is a texting element to this. Someone will text you out of the blue. You say it’s a mistake and they have the wrong number, but then they try to continue to have conversation with you claiming they want to be friends and then it quickly grows into more. Then once again, money is asked for.
Guard your heart and your wallet.