FBI warning public to be aware of Valentine's Day scams - CBS46 News

FBI warning public to be aware of Valentine's Day scams

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(FBI.gov/Meredith) — This Valentine’s Day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is raising awareness about online romance scams, also called “Confidence Fraud.”

This type of fraud happens when scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps, or social media. They try to obtain access to the person's financial information or personal identity.

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Romance scams are prevalent during this time of year, and the FBI cautions everyone who may be romantically involved with a person online to be extremely careful.

“If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately,” Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, said in a press release. “We recognize that it may be embarrassing for victims to report this type of fraud scheme because of the personal relationships that are developed, but we ask for victims to come forward so the FBI can ensure that these online imposters are brought to justice.”

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According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.

In 2016, almost 15,000 romance scam complaints were reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, an increase of nearly 2,500 more than the previous year. The losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million.

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How To Stay Safe Online

The following tips may be helpful to consider if you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
  • Go slow and ask a lot of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests. inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
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  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.

If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, file a complaint here on the FBI's website.

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Information for this article was provided by a press release from FBI.gov.