Emily Gaines, Class of 2018, is a Public Relations Coordinator for the Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re looking for love, dating apps can be a great option. Unfortunately, it’s also a convenient place for scammers to find new targets. A romance scam uses many of the same elements of catfishing – stolen photos and fake names – to connect with people online and eventually take money from them.
These scammers take time to create an emotional relationship with their target over the internet. Sometimes this can mean weeks, or even months, of communication via social media, dating apps or sometimes email. Once they’ve gained your trust, the scammer will ask you for money. They may claim to have a sudden emergency or need money to travel to see you. They could also just ask for small amounts of money over a long period of time.
Regardless of how a scammer tries to take your money, romance scams end with victims in heartbreak and financial distress. Use these tips from your Better Business Bureau to keep yourself safe as you search for love this Valentine’s Day:
Know the signs. Staying educated on the red flags of a romance scam can help prevent you from becoming victim to one. Someone who is in a hurry to get off the dating site and wants to move the relationship along quickly may have suspect motives. Never wanting to meet and hard-luck stories of sick relatives or financial troubles are also signs of a scam.
Don’t send money to strangers. Even if they have a really sad story, refrain from sending money to someone you haven’t met in person. This includes sharing your credit card information with someone so they may purchase a plane ticket to see you. If someone starts asking for your personal or financial information, it is best to cut off contact.
Ask specific questions. Take a good look at the profile and ask them specific questions about the details you see. A scammer may not be paying attention to the small details and could stumble when answering or trying to make their story fit.
Do your research. A common tactic of scammers is to steal photos from the internet. If you are suspicious of someone you are chatting with, try using reverse image search with their photo and see what results come up.
Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at BBB serving the Heart of Texas!