Tips to avoid romance scams this Valentine's Day

Nina Pineda Image
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Avoid falling for these romance scams
Nina Pineda reports on how to avoid financial scams during the season of love.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Love is in the air this Valentine's Day, but instead of being shot by Cupid's arrow, some folks are getting stung by scammers.

Thieves are taking advantage of people looking for love and swindling them out of their money.

Every year there are $547 million reasons why love seekers lose money.

Looking for a connection online? The old saying "love is blind," may shield signs of a romance scam.

If they come in hot with a proposal that's too much too soon, then it might be too good to be true.

Another sign of a romance scam is refusing to meet face to face, or even on FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.

And beware of a sad "woe is me" tale of personal financial hardship.

Even more alarming, some swindlers are jumping off the texts and the apps, and into the flesh.

Here some common requests from romance scammers:

  • Money for tickets to come and see you by plane or train.
  • Requesting an advance on rent, an Airbnb to share, or a deposit on a house for you to live in together.
  • Money for an emergency medical operation for themselves or their parents.
  • Once you send money it can be hard to stop, according to security experts.

    "Especially if you have given someone money the first time, we have a flaw in our operating system called a "sunk cost," we've already given someone some money and we feel like we have to continue to follow through and give them more and more until you realize we've made a big mistake," said Guidepoint Security expert Patrick McNeil.

    A New York City woman was tricked into a bad romance with someone pretending to be a U.S. Army major. His photo was stolen and plastered all over multiple dating websites.

    He knows of six women who bought rings, invested in Bitcoin and even sent deposits for homes believing they were engaged to him, but he's a happily married father of two. The soldier wanted to warn women not to fall for romance scammers asking for money.

    Here are some things you never want to do:

  • Never wire or Cash App money.
  • If someone wants you to invest in cryptocurrency or Bitcoin, run.
  • Another big red flag is if you're asked to take out loans or borrow from your 401K.
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