MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Valentine’s Day is around the corner and lots of people are looking for love. But, while your eyes may be set on finding the right person to spend the special day with, scammers have their eyes on your bank accounts.
The FBI Memphis office warned Tennesseans of romance or confidence scams with Valentine’s Day on the horizon.
In 2022, the last year with data available, 331 Tennesseans lost nearly $9 million to romance scams, according to the FBI. And, that’s just the crimes that were reported.
In all, more than 19,000 people lost over $735 million to the scams in 2022, the FBI said.
“Romance scams are prevalent, especially during this time of year, and the consequences are often financially and emotionally devastating to victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office.
The FBI said these scams typically take place on dating websites, apps, chat rooms and social media sites. The scammers goal is to gain someone’s trust and access to their financial or personal identifying information.
So, how can you protect yourself from an empty heart and empty pockets?
The FBI said to be careful about what you post online and to only use dating apps with national reputations. Even still, assume scammers are trolling and be cautious.
If you meet someone, research their pictures and profile using online search tools to ensure that their profile was not spoofed and, if you feel like it’s a scam, stop contact immediately.
The FBI said that you should be concerned if the person seems to perfect or if they are too eager to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
You should also beware if the person tries to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or any financial information that could later be used to extort you.
If the person you’re talking to agrees to meet in person but continuously has excuses as to why they can’t meet, that’s also good reason to be suspicious.
And, never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone, the FBI warned.
If you feel like someone is trying to scam you, you can report it here.
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