With Valentine’s Day looming, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warned Floridians on Tuesday to look out for online romance scams that are becoming more frequent on social media and dating websites.
The Better Business Bureau warns that online dating sites have reported a surge in activity the days before Valentine’s Day, as many singles use technology to find a match. Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites created by stealing photos and text from real accounts or elsewhere.
“While online dating and social media have made it easier than ever to meet new people, imposters are coming up with creative ways to prey on your trust and vulnerability as a way to steal your money. Beware of ‘new friends’ on social media sites trying to win your affection because their motives might be more dishonest. If they ever ask you for money via gift cards, Venmo, Cash App or a wire transfer without ever meeting you in person, it’s probably a scam. If you feel you have been the victim of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com,” Patronis said on Tuesday.
The CFO’s office offered the following red flags:
1. Always Traveling for Work. Fraudsters often pretend to be a U.S. citizen working overseas or a member of the armed services. This could be a sign of a scam.
2. Never Available to Meet. If your new friend always finds an excuse as to why they cannot meet you face-to-face and you’ve been “dating” for a long time, this is another warning sign that you are being scammed.
3. Asking for Fast Money. Often, these scammers will have harrowing stories creating a financial need such as a medical emergency or other major financial setbacks.
4. Requesting Gift Cards or Money Transfers. These scammers frequently request to receive financial help via wire transfer, Venmo, Cash App or by having the victim purchase them gift cards.