CONCORD, NH – It may be the season of love and romance, but this February state officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for romance scams. A romance scam occurs when a scammer forms a romantic relationship with a victim online or over the telephone and then attempts to obtain money or personal identifying information from the victim.
Often victims are older people, or those who are vulnerable due to personal circumstances. Typically romance scammers troll online dating and social media websites using fake identities and target single individuals, including those recently divorced or widowed. They win favor with the victim by claiming to share common interests or circumstances. The scammers get this information through a victim’s public social media accounts as well as other online resources such as obituaries.
The NH Attorney General’s office warns that if you are speaking with someone on the telephone or online who you have not met in person, there are several signs that this person may be a scammer, including:
- The person provides too much personal information too soon
- The person quickly tries to lure you off a dating website or social media to communicate through text, e-mail, or instant messaging
- The person has poor spelling and grammar
- The person makes excuses why you cannot meet in person
- The person claims to be living or traveling outside the U.S. (often claiming to be in the military or working on an “oil rig.”)
- The person claims he or she is trapped abroad and needs your money to get back home
- The person asks that you send gift cards, cell phones, or cryptocurrency
- The person says that he or she has millions of dollars but can only access the funds if you first provide them money or other property
Avoid falling victim to a romance scam by:
- Limiting the information that you provide publicly on social media websites;
- Ceasing contact immediately if you suspect that you are engaged in a romance scam;
- Refusing to send money or provide your personal information to those individuals you speak with online but have not met in person;
- Not clicking any links that are sent to you online by any person that you do not know or have not met in person.
If you or a loved one has lost money or property as a result of a romance scam, please call your local police department and the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Hotline at (603) 271-3641. You may also report to:
In addition, anyone with knowledge that a vulnerable adult has been scammed or financially exploited should also contact the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, at 1-800-949-0470.