Romantic scams are swarming through social media and are at its highest right now. There has been a recent rise in instances in the area, specifically in Ohio.
“Sometimes online dating works out very well, but unfortunately, there are some con artists who pretend to be someone they’re not,” Attorney General DeWine said. “They string people along, and at some point, they start asking for money.”
These individuals are on social media and now on dating sites. They create fake profiles to begin communications through messaging, texting, and even by phone. Sometimes, they communicate for years, trying to avoid actual personal meetings, for one reason or another. They may even send gifts, flowers or updated photos (forged) to help prove their existence.
SOME COMMON EXCUSES WHY THEY NEED THE MONEY
- They are temporarily working overseas and trying to get back to America, but their passport was stolen, along with their wallet or purse.
- They are an engineer building a bridge in India who was robbed and needs money to come home.
- A U.S. military member stationed overseas who needs money to buy a plane ticket.
- A jewelry traveling in Africa detained after trying to board a plane with a diamond.
They eventually declare their love and how they look forward to meeting you, your family, and start a life together. They just need the money so they can get home and see you in person.
Once they get a commitment for money, they instruct the person to send the money by wire-transfer service, money order, prepaid car, gift card, or other hard-to-trace payment methods. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.
“In 2017, about 40 Ohioans reported losing money to sweetheart scams. The average reported loss was close to $40,000,” Dewine said.
TIPS TO AVOID ROMANCE SCAMS
- Pay attention to the person’s profile: Is it new? Does it only have one or two photos? Does the profile indicate that he is working overseas or in the military? If so, probably a fake profile.
- Research someone you meet online: Don’t rely on what their profile says. Really research them- search their name and other details the individuals provides to verify the truth. Don’t just assume the person is trustworthy. REMEMBER: if it seems too good to be true, it normally is.
- Look for weird language: Most of them eventually can’t type correct English or use the English language in a weird format- like a foreign speaking person would.
- Don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online: even if you feel YOU LOVE them and they LOVE YOU. Be especially skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer, money order, prepaid money cards, cash or anything. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.
The internet can be a wonderful place, just be careful with whom you meet and what is out there. It can also be a dark world too.