Valentine’s Day means love is in the air, and criminals are online as millions are lost to scammers yearly during this time. This Valentine’s Day is shaping up to be big, according to projections by the National Retail Federation, which suggests that consumer spending will reach nearly $26 billion. The FBI is warning people to beware of romance scams which tend to proliferate this time of the year as many people log on to find that special someone. “Romance scams can have a devastating impact on hearts as well as bank accounts,” Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division said, “Your true love might be waiting for you on a dating website, or it could be someone who will tell you sweet little lies to get your money. Be alert, ask lots of questions, and know the warning signs of a scam”.
As you prepare to celebrate, there are a few common scams that you need to be aware of. Whether you’re hoping to spark a new relationship or buying gifts for loved ones, beware of these scams regularly reported to BBB.
- Impostor websites - From fake jewelry sellers to online dating sites, consumers should always be on the alert as scammers can easily lift official photos, sale promotions, and logos directly from a website. Similar methods may be used to build fake online dating platforms, which are often used to steal personal data and credit card information.
Red flags: Products are available at extreme discounts, the seller requests customers pay with cash transfer apps or cryptocurrency, and customer service is unreachable.
- Romance scams - Romance scammers often target vulnerable people who have experienced a recent breakup or other hardship. They take advantage of that heartbreak to establish a connection and gain sympathy. Once they’ve gotten their victim on the hook with a sad story, they begin pursuing their true goal–money. Falling victim to a romance scam can be particularly devastating. Victims can lose thousands of dollars, and they’re often left feeling heartbroken and betrayed because they believed they’d found a good partner.
Red flags: The relationship moves very fast, you never meet in person, and they ask for money.
- Wrong number scam - Responding to a text message from someone who messaged the wrong number might seem harmless. It might even seem like the polite thing to do if they say they’re looking to reconnect with a potential match. The text message, however, is bait to lure you into a conversation. If you keep chatting, they eventually try to get your personal information by directing you to sign up for an adult site.
Red flags: The messages don’t stop, the sender directs you to sign up for a website, and they try to get your personal information.
- Fake florist scam - Ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day? Don’t procrastinate or you may end up falling for a scam. BBB has received many reports of shoppers who thought they were ordering flowers from an online florist, but either got nothing at all or a disappointing arrangement.
Red flags: The business has no reviews or bad reviews, you can't find a return policy or satisfaction guarantee, and the deal is "too good to be true”.
Phishing attacks nowadays are better looking than ever. Remember to be suspicious about any email received that is not expected, including topics like required payments, offering free funds, and urges you to respond quickly.
Reach out to NASB if you think your NASB bank accounts have been involved or if the scammer falsely identifies that they are representing NASB. For additional info or to report romance scams please visit the following for more information: www.bbb.org/romance, www.fbi.gov/romancescams, and staysafeonline.org.
We wish you a happy and secure Valentine’s Day!