FBI: Romance Scammers May Ruin Your Valentine’s Day
Instead of a great opportunity to express love, care or passion to someone, Valentine’s Day may lead to “heartbreak, embarrassment, and financial loss,” the FBI stressed on the eve of the popular holiday of love.
“Well-rehearsed criminals search dating sites, apps, chat rooms, and other social media networking sites attempting to build ‘relationships’ for the sole purpose of getting your money or your personally identifiable information,” the agency warned.
In a similar manner of getting closer to someone’s heart, scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to get closer to someone’s pockets, valets or bank accounts, while declaring their “undying love”.
“These criminals often use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, and other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes,” according to the FBI.
Their next step is to ask victims to send money to help them overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing.
The FBI underlines that the criminals “spend hours honing their skills, relying on well-rehearsed scripts that have been used repeatedly and successfully, and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.”
It also warned that victims may sometimes even be recruited, unknowingly, to illegally transfer money on behalf of others.
“Most often these romance scammers leave victims financially and emotionally devastated and many victims may not have the ability to recover from the financial loss,” said special agent in charge of the FBI El Paso Division, Luis M. Quesada.
The agency reports that the number of romance scams in the U.S.A. has been rising, with 23,768 cases registered in 2020, and with the losses associated with those cases amounting to some US$605 million.