Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has urged residents to be wary of potential scammers while looking for love online this Valentine’s Day.
“Sweetheart scams” — scams revolving around victims who have met con artists online through social media and dating websites — resulted in 40 Ohioans losing thousands of dollars in 2017, according to the attorney general’s office. The scammers typically create fake profiles to communicate with their would-be victims and create elaborate stories to eventually ask them to send cash.
“Sometimes online dating works out very well but unfortunately, there are some con artists who pretend to be someone they’re not,” DeWine said in a news release.
The con artist convinces the victim to send money through various means such as prepaid cards or money orders, but can also include harder to trace methods. Once the money is gone, it’s nearly impossible to recover.
DeWine offered the following tips to help avoid being scammed during the upcoming holiday:
1. Research someone you met online.
It’s best not to rely solely on information your would-be sweetheart tells you themselves. Search the person’s name and look into details they provide. Don’t assume they’re trustworthy just because you met them on a reputable dating site.
2. Be wary of relationships that develop very quickly.
Take care when someone says they’ve developed lasting feelings very soon after you’ve met online and have yet to meet in person. Talk to friends and family about any online relationships, even if the other person asks you to keep it a secret.
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3. Don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online.
Be skeptical if the person makes requests for money send via money order, wire transfer, cash or gift cards. These are typically the preferred methods for scammers.
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