The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a statement warning of potentially devastating cyber-based romance scams that can leave individuals heartbroken- and financially broke.
The FBI’s brand of Richmond, Virginia has issued a warning stating that on the calendar’s day for romance and love, cybercriminals and extortionists often leverage it for their personal and financial gain.
“Valentine’s Day and the days leading up to it can be exciting, but it can also lead to heartbreak, embarrassment and financial loss,” they said in a statement, offering some tips to “avoid becoming a victim to romance scams,” that are particularly prevalent at this time of year.
“Well-rehearsed criminals searching 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,” they stated, warning lonely individuals of the potential risks out there when it comes to cybercriminals taking advantage of lonely individuals.
The Bureau listed the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of one of these romance scams, adding that it’s important to report these cases to the authorities which can be difficult at times considerng that victims are often “hesitant to report being taken advantage of due to embarrassment, shame or humiliation. It’s important to remember, romance scams can happen to anyone at any time,” the FBI said.
Only use reputable, nationally-recognized dating websites; however, be aware that scammers may be using them too.
Research photos and profiles in other online search tools and ask questions.
Never provide your financial information, loan money, nor allow your bank accounts to be used for transfers of funds.
Do not allow attempts to isolate you from family and friends.
Do not blindly believe the stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, family deaths,
injuries, or other hardships geared at keeping your interest and concern.
If you are planning to meet someone in person you have met online, meet in a public place and let someone know where you will be and what time you should return home.
If you are traveling to a foreign country to meet someone check the State Department’s Travel Advisories beforehand, provide your itinerary to family and friends, and do not travel alone if possible.