Better Business Bureau is warning about romance scams in preparation for Valentine's Day.
Romance scams occur when a scammer deceives a victim into believing they are engaging in a trusting relationship.
Most romance scams start with fake profiles on dating sites. Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can't meet in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship and exchanges photos along with romantic messages. Sometimes the scammer may even talk on the phone to build a deeper connection with the victim.
When the relationship seems to be getting serious, the scammer has a health issue, family emergency, or plans to visit the victim.
"The romance scam stories are all similar because there is always a request for money. After the money is sent, there is sometimes a request for more money or the scammer stops communicating altogether,” said Robyn Householder, president & CEO of Better Business Bureau Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. "If someone you recently met requests money from you, we suggest saying no."
There are three things everyone can do to avoid Romance Scams.
First, use a reverse Image Look tool. Most online dating scams start with fake pictures of good-looking men and women. This is a tactic to attract victims. To avoid being scammed by images, we suggest visiting Images.google.com or tineye.com. Put that photo in and what you will detect is where that photo is being used, other sites, other places, and you may find. It's being used with different profiles and people, which is one of your biggest warning signs.
Secondly, check website or app reviews before creating a profile. We suggest typing in words complaints, reviews, scams, and the name of the website. This will give you an idea of what others say about the website or app.
Thirdly, never send money or personal information that can be used for identity theft to someone you've never met in person. Never give someone your credit card information to book a ticket to visit you. Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for information like credit card, bank, or government ID numbers.
Visit BBB.org, before doing business with a company or signing up for any websites. Always report suspected fraud to the BBB by filing a complaint using
BBB.org/Scamtracker. Also, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at reportfraud.ftc.gov