#FraudFriday Romance

Thousands of people use online dating websites to find companionship or a romantic partner, but criminals also use these sites to lure vulnerable victims into giving away much more than they signed up for. 

Scammers will create fake profiles to build online relationships with unsuspecting victims. After they’ve gained your trust, some may start to ask for a little bit of money here and there, and others may ask for your personal information; these requests usually come with a sad story. Once this information is handed out, it is used to access a victim’s bank account to commit identity theft. According to information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center, in the first six months of 2016, romance scams cost victims approximately $120 million. 

Sadly, many victims do not report these crimes for fear of judgment or embarrassment. 

Romance scams are particularly cruel because they prey upon a person’s vulnerability and emotions, which can be damaging both emotionally and financially. 

While there are thousands of success stories that come from these websites, we want to give you a few tips to help avoid financial heartbreak: 

-When getting to know someone, exchange phone numbers and have real conversations over the phone. Scammers will usually try to stick to e-mails and texts. 
-DO NOT send money, by any means, to someone you don’t know and trust.
-DO NOT send your personal information, passwords, or account information. Also, be wary if you are being asked questions that may sound familiar like those commonly used by an institution verifying your identity. 
-If you are going to meet face to face, stick to a public place until you really get to know a person. 
- Lastly, go with your gut! If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. 

Ask yourself, are they seeking a date, or data seeking?