BBB Offers Tips on Avoiding Romance Scams Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) – whose mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust – is offering tips on how to avoid online romance scams since online dating and social media have made it easier than ever for romance scammers to meet new people and find dates.

BBB Tips on Avoiding Romance Scams

According to the BBB, most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites created by scammers who claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they cannot meet in person. Over a period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship through photos and romantic messages.

Just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, the “sweetheart scammer” has a health issue, family emergency, or wants to visit and needs money. But after the victim sends the money, the scammer makes another request, and another, or stops communicating altogether. Here are tips to spot this scam.

  • Too hot to be true: Sweetheart scammers offer up good-looking photos and tales of financial success. People should be honest about who would be genuinely interested in them. If they seem “too perfect,” alarm bells should ring.
  • In a hurry to get off the site: “Catfishers” – con artists who create compelling backstories and identities to trick people into falling for someone who does not even exist – will try very quickly to get victims to move to communicate through email, messenger, or phone.
  • Moving fast: Catfishers will speak of a future together, tell victims they love them quickly, and often say they have never felt this way before.
  • Talk about trust: Catfishers will start manipulating people with talk about how trust is important and this will often be a first step to asking you for money.
  • Do not want to meet: People should be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone meeting because they say they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.
  • Suspect language: If the online interest claims to be from the victim’s home town but has poor spelling or grammar and uses overly flowery language or phrases that do not make sense, that is a red flag.
  • Hard luck stories: Before moving on to ask for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles like heat being cut off, a stolen car, a sick relative, or they may share a sad story from their past such as the death of parents or spouse.

Catfishing is often it is the first step in a romance scam to steal money. In some cases, victims have been tricked into moving illegal money from other scams. To learn more, read “Online Romance Scams: A BBB Study on How Scammers Use Impersonation, Blackmail, and Trickery to Steal from Unsuspecting Daters.”

The BBB study on romance scams revealed many fraudsters use online dating sites to gain the trust of unsuspecting people and steal their money. Victims in the U.S. and Canada reported losing nearly $1 billion over the last three years and this may only be the tip of the iceberg since many people do not file complaints.

To protect oneself from romance scams, the BBB suggests people never send money or personal information to someone they have never met in person, ask specific questions about details in an online profile, and do research to see what adds up and what does not. To report romance scams, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

More News about Romance Scams

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – wishes everyone a happy and “romance scam free” Valentine’s Day. To learn more about romance scams and online dating background checks, visit  www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/online-dating-background-checks/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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