NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – With Valentine’s Day approaching, the New Mexico Securities Division warns residents about romance scams.
A romance scam occurs when a person uses a fake online identity to gain another person’s affection and trust. Scammers use the illusion of romance or intimacy to manipulate or steal from the victim.
Those involved in online dating should be aware of the following romance scam warning signs:
- Reluctance to meet in person, living in another country, or working on an “overseas project”
- Wanting a long-distance relationship
- Discussing wealth or business success
- Pressuring victim to give them money
- Introducing an app or website with investing information
Romance scams are unfortunately all too common in today’s online dating world,” Benjamin Schrope, acting director of the New Mexico Securities Division, stated in a news release. “These scammers are sophisticated and often target elderly victims with more capital. Our goal is to ensure that New Mexicans engaged in online dating know what to look for and how to best protect themselves from scammers looking to steal their money.”
According to the FBI, there were more than 170 victims of romance scams in New Mexico in 2021. A third of the victims were over the age of 60, with a loss totaling almost $1.5 million.
The New Mexico Securities Division provided the following tips on how to avoid romance scams:
- Keep your guard up and be wary of someone who starts asking for money or encourages you to invest.
- Do online searches to get a better idea of who you’re talking to. Scammers often use stolen images, so a reverse image search online might tell you all you need to know.
- Ask to meet in-person or via a clear video chat to determine if the person is who they say they are.
- Research the websites and apps potential suitors suggest. Often scammers will create a custom online platform to take your money and hide from authorities.
All individuals offering investment advice or opportunities in New Mexico must be registered with the New Mexico Securities Division. To report investment scams, contact the New Mexico Securities Division at 505-476-4580 or by visiting rld.nm.gov/securities-division/enforcement.