Romance scams: What to watch for

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 8:26 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day and love can bloom from just about anywhere.

Many relationships start online these days, but how do you know the person on the other end is legitimate? There are scammers who you love to fake you out and take your money.

The pandemic has caused an increase in all things internet and that would include romance. But it’s worth noting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says 2020 was a record year for romance scams.

The FTC says losses hit over $300 million in 2020 - a 50% hike from 2019. And the most susceptible segment of the population to this is the elderly.

“The consequences of these scams are often financially and emotionally devastating to victims,” said an FBI representative.

There’s a term called “catfishing” where a person online will fake their identity, start a romantic relationship, all with intentions of scamming money out of others.

“And then uses the illusions of romantic relationships to manipulate or steal from victims,” the representative added.

There are warning signs to look out for and this is directly from the FBI:

  • Research the person’s photo - that can be done through a Google reverse image lookup.
  • Go slowly and ask a lot of questions
  • If a person constantly comes up with reasons for why they can’t meet, that’s a major red flag.
  • Don’t ever send them money or give any banking information to someone who you’ve only communicated with online.

Those 2020 numbers are the latest available. If you have concerns about money you may have sent to someone, contact your bank immediately.

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