FBI warns of romance scams on Valentine’s Day | #datingscams | #lovescams

EL PASO As Valentine’s Day arrives, FBI El Paso is warning residents of an expected surge of Romance/Confidence scams around Valentine’s Day.

In 2023, Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports showed at least 50 West Texans reported falling victim to a romance scam. The West Texan victims lost over $903,000. FBI El Paso estimates 2-3x that number of victims never report the crime.

In a confidence/romance scam, victims are lured into thinking they are in a relationship with a friend or romantic partner, then are tricked into sending money, financial information, or personal information to the criminal. They may also be deceived into laundering money.

Romance scammers follow a well-rehearsed script that has worked before, and often view this scam as a full-time job. Special Agents have noted they may wait for months developing the relationship before asking for anything of value.

“Scammers often use your likes to become the perfect partner and getting the victim to lower their guard,” John Morales, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI El Paso Field Office, said in a news release. “Victims may feel embarrassed, but it’s important to come forward and contact the FBI if you suspect your online admirer is a scammer, so we can help bring them to justice before they break someone else’s heart and bank account.”

The following are examples of common red flags of romance scams, as well as tips to better protect yourself.

Common Romance Scam Red Flags:

  • The scammer makes promises to meet in person but gives excuses as to why they can’t.
  • The scammer will ask for money once they gain your trust. Typically, they explain they have an owed debt, need financial assistance, or they ask for travel funds.
  • The scammer will request money through methods that make it hard to be traced and hard to get back.
  • The scammer may ask to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Be careful what you post and make public online.
  • If you suspect a scam, stop communicating with the person immediately.
  • Conduct a reverse image search of the person’s photo(s). If it is associated with another name or profile, it is likely a scam.
  • Take things slow and ask a lot of questions.
  • Never send money to someone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

If you suspect you are involved in a romance scam or you have fallen victim, report the incident to the FBI’s IC3 by visiting www.ic3.gov.

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