Today, after we’ve just celebrated real romance on Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing information I found in today’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune about romance scams. Since these suggestions come straight from the FBI, I’m sure they want this information to be read by any and all who might be affected.
The Herald-Tribune article concerned internet scams on the rise in Florida, which has already claimed close to 1,200 victims who have lost more than $20 million. Scammers cozy up to the vulnerable, often lonely older people, and insinuate themselves into their lives and pocketbooks.
So here are some excellent tips to avoid being scammed yourself. Not my usual blog, true, but hopefully it will give all of us pause.
Don’t become a victim
To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you. Always use reputable websites, but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:
‒ Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
‒ Go slow and ask lots of questions.
‒ Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
‒ Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
‒ Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
‒ Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
‒ If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. And if you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation
Have you been scammed or aware you might be? I hope this helps all of us see the pitfalls of internet friendships with strangers.