The FBI is warning citizens to avoid falling victim to "romance scams" during Valentine's Day season.
In these types of scams, the victim believes they are in a relationship, family, friendly or romantic, and are tricked into spending money, personal or financial information, items of value, or launder money.
The FBI said in 2016, victims of this type of scam reported a loss of more than $219 million.
If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you met online, the FBI has the following tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:
- 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 fall victim to a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
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