As Valentine’s Day approaches, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning people about “romance scams” that can originate on Facebook or dating websites. His office has received several reports of them in 2017.
The person can create a phony profile online, contacts a potential victim, and begins communicating with the victim through messages or calls. Eventually, the scammer asks for money from the victim, often in the form of wire transfer or money order.
Here is what to look out for: romance scammers often claim to be a soldier, general, or other military member overseas; an oil rig worker; a business person in another country; an heir to a large inheritance; or someone who says they are in need of money for travel, medical or business costs.
The scammers may also send photos or documentation to “prove” their identity to the victim. They also will likely spend hours communicating before they ask for the money.
In 2016, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received about 60 romance scam complaints. Overall, people lost an average of over $21,000, but some reported sending as much as $100,000 or more over the course of a few months or years.
Here are some tips to avoid romance scams: research someone you meet online; be careful when accepting friend requests on Facebook or other sites, even if you think you may know the person; be cautious of people who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together or claim to love you soon after you meet online; talk to friends and family about any online relationships, even if the person asks you to keep it a secret; don’t send money to someone you’ve met only online, even if you feel like you have developed a close relationship with that person; and finally, be skeptical of requests for wire transfers, money orders, prepaid money cards or gift cards.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.