Scams come in all shapes and sizes. Some capitalize on consumers’ loneliness.
That’s why education is key. “The best way to prevent scams is to raise awareness,” said Attorney General Donovan.
His Consumer Assistance Program released a video and toolkit alerting Vermonters of the dangers of imposter romance scams — a scam involving the start of a relationship or friendship, followed by requests for “financial help.” Imposter scams continue to be among the top scams reported by Vermonters to the program. In 2020, “phony relationships” were the fifth most reported scam, resulting in a total loss of $349,166. This video and toolkit are the first to be released in a three-part series on imposter scams.
“By creating this series of videos, we hope that Vermonters will be better able to spot scams to prevent them from happening in the first place. I want to thank the staff at CAP, our partners at the University of Vermont, and Hen House Media for their efforts on this important initiative,” said Donovan.
Romance imposter scams occur when con artists create fake online identities — typically on dating and social media sites — to gain the trust of targets. At some point in the relationship, financial help is needed and caring partners will offer funds. These relationships can last months or years. Entire life savings have been lost. Common forms of payment include wire transfers, gift cards, cash, and access to accounts.
The video and toolkit released today provide information about how to spot the romance scam and the steps Vermonters can take to protect themselves. These steps include using reverse image searches to look up photos of the person, video chatting at random times, consulting with close contacts and reaching out to organizations like the Consumer Assistance Program for help.
The “Imposter Scam: Know Your Relationships” series was made possible with money provided by the Sears Consumer Protection and Education Fund. The program thanked Hen House Media for their production assistance and the actors who generously volunteered their time.
Here are links to the romance imposter scam video and toolkit: https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/romance-imposter/ and https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/imposter-scams-toolkit/