A Wichita Falls man thought he found love with a woman named Maureen, but he ended up losing hundreds of dollars in a phishing scheme aimed at lonely hearts.
The Better Business Bureau of North Texas warns people to be especially wary of scams trying to make money off love ahead of this year’s Valentine’s Day.
Whether it’s imposter gift websites or love scams, it’s best to keep your guard up when it comes to your pocketbook.
In the romance scam reported to the BBB by a local man in July 2021, he was on the dating website Plenty of Fish (POF) when he found a woman named “Maureen.” The two exchanged phone numbers and began texting.
The woman claimed to be employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a computer hacker.
Maureen said she needed money to help her complete her work and convinced the victim to send $300 on a cash app, which she said she would turn into bitcoins.
At the end of the week, Maureen said she needed another $625 to finish her work. The victim refused and Maureen became angry and the man began getting threatening messages from another number. Maureen said if her did not send the money he would have the FBI after him and his family.
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The scenario is like many other romance scams, according to the BBB. During a study of typical scams on dating sites, the scammer pretends to be someone else just looking for love.
The scammer adds a reason why might be so mysterious or needing money – for example they are in the military overseas or with the FBI on a secret mission.
The scammer begins asking for money, sometimes through unusual means like cash apps, gift cards or wire transfers.
When a victim balks and the scammer is no longer getting their money, they sometimes threaten to tell the person’s secrets or other retaliation.
Red flags that the new online love of your life might be a scammer:
The relationship moves very fast.
You’ve never met the other person in real life (and they often have excuses for not meeting up).
The person asks for money.
The BBB also notes other scams to watch out for this Valentine’s Day:
Imposter websites – Scammers can easily fake logos, official-looking photos and promotions from other sites, notably popular jewelry brands.
Similar methods are used for fake online dating platforms that can steal personal data and credit card information.
Here are some red flags to watch out for with fake websites:
Too good to be true prices for products
The seller requests payment through a cash app transfer or cryptocurrency.
Customer service is unreachable.
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Another scam is a seemingly innocent text to a wrong number. Sometimes the scammer says they were trying to reconnect with a potential match.
The scammer is attempting to lure the person into a conversation. If they keep chatting, the scammer eventually asks for personal information or directs you to sign up for an adult site.
Red flags that a “wrong number” is a scam:
The messages will not stop
They direct you to sign up or click to go to a website
They attempt to get your personal information
If you’ve already found that special someone and are looking for a lovely bouquet of flowers, beware of potential pitfalls. The BBB receives reports from people who bought flowers from online businesses and got either no flowers at all, or disappointing arrangements.
Check with the BBB – if the business has no reviews, or bad reviews, they could be a poor choice.
See if they business has a return policy or satisfaction guarantee.
Deals seem too good to be true.
If you encounter a scam on Valentine’s or any day of the year, start off by cutting off all contact with the suspected scammer by blocking their accounts and phone number.
Report the scammer to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
Dating-site users should report any suspicious activity encountered while using the platform.
For more romance scam tips and information, visit BBB.org/romance.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Romance scam leaves Wichita Falls man with broken heart, empty wallet
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