BEND, OR -- Love is in the air ... and online, which can be especially attractive to scammers.
Stephen Mayer, with the Better Business Bureau, says criminals often troll for victims online by using a stolen profile picture, "Maybe someone who’s really good looking – a male model or female model – so, using those to peruse online dating websites and look for people who may be vulnerable and then try to make contact with them. And, their end-goal is to rip you off and get your money." He says if the person on the screen appears “too perfect,” alarms should ring in your head, "If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, if it’s too hot to be true, it probably is."
He tells KBND News scammers will often avoid meeting you in person, sometimes claiming to be in the military or working overseas to explain they can’t meet up, "If they’re trying to get you to communicate through just email or some sort of messaging service, or even trying to get your phone number – if they’re trying to get you off that website and into a more private way of communication, that’s also a red flag to watch out for." But, he says the end-goal is always the same: to get your money.
Mayer says if you use online dating sites, you should also watch out for people who start talking about a future together very early on; oftentimes they’ll say they’ve ‘never felt this way before.’ Also beware of those who have a hard-luck story, "‘I lost my job’ or ‘one of my family members is sick.’ Or, ‘I got to get some money from you to deal with a death of a parent or a spouse for those burial costs.’ We’ve seen it all," says Mayer, "And they have no shame, unfortunately, in creating these stories: ‘you love me, right? Why can’t you just help me out with this one thing?’ And, they’re really trying to get you to send them some money."
If you've become a victim of an online dating or romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.