Love is in the air and online dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid are humming with activity courtesy the approaching Valentine’s Day. All these online dating apps are definitely a great way to find love and build relationships, but what comes free with them are romance scams! There are high chances that fraudsters will take advantage of individuals searching for love or companionship via online dating apps during this season. Unfortunately, many people end up becoming victims of online romance scams. These scams usually begin with a fast-paced online relationship and end up with an online financial crime.
In view of this, the FBI Columbia field office has issued a warning to be careful of potential romance scams ahead of Valentine’s Day. According to the 2021 Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) annual report, South Carolina residents lost $6.8 million to confidence fraud and romance scams that year. Despite the absence of 2022 data, it’s expected that reported losses will escalate due to the current upward trend, the FBI said in a blog.
To ensure that you don’t fall into any trap, here are a few tips that you should be using while negotiating dating websites during the period leading up to Valentine’s Day.
How to know if it is a Romance Scam:
- Online romance fraudsters will make great efforts to win victims’ trust and once they do, the scammer will ask for money while explaining some issues such as they have an owed debt, need financial assistance, or they ask for travel funds.
- The scammer will ask for the money through methods that are hard to be traced back.
- Always note that the scammer makes promises to meet in person but then will make excuses to not meet. If they try to do so, then this is another red flag for you.
- They quickly want to leave the dating site or app, so that they can contact you via private messaging, email, or texting methods. Never share your personal numbers, email, or social media handles.
How to protect yourself from a romance scam
- Always be careful what you post and make it public about yourself online.
- Suspect a scam? Stop communicating with the person immediately!
- It’s a wise idea to do a quick reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to know if it is associated with someone else.
- Take each step in your relationship slowly and ask a lot of personal questions.
- Never ever share your secret details, including bank details. Also, never share money.