• ONLINE LOVE: FBI warns public to be wary of romance scams


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the FBI wants to raise awareness about online romance scams, also known as confidence fraud.

    In confidence fraud, scammers take advantage of those looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps or social media by obtaining access to their financial or personal identifiable information.

    The FBI says romance scams ramp up this time of year.

    According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.

    In 2016, almost 15,000 complaints categorized as romance scams were reported to the FBI -- nearly 2,500 more than the previous year -- and the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million.

    Authorities said the tips below are helpful to consider for those developing a romantic relationship with someone online:

    • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
    • Go slow and ask questions.
    • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go “offline.”
    • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests.
    • 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 believe you are a victim of a romance scam, file a complaint here.

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