Released by The Better Business Bureau of East Texas
Scammers take advantage of every major event or holiday to launch their malicious campaigns, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Every year, Valentine’s Day brings an onslaught of romance scams. While meant to be a day for expressing affection, some people use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to reveal their deceit. BBB advises consumers to be aware of the red flags.
“Valentine’s Day is an ideal time for scam artists to come out of the wood work”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “A typical tactic of scam artists is to entice their victims by playing with their emotions.”
BBB cautions consumers about Valentine’s Day smooth operators who may try to trick you with the following:
- You receive unsolicited emails with greatly discounted prices on romantic dinners, chocolate offers, diamond rings or flowers. Or, you receive an email which links to a supposed online greeting card or Valentine's Day website. If you get an email from someone you don't know on Valentine’s Day or any other time of year, do not click on the link or download any attachments. It could be nothing more than an attempt to download malware onto your PC.
- You receive invitations to connect on social media websites or dating websites. Remember, it’s not a good idea to friend everyone who sends you an invitation. Do not reply to any message from someone you don’t know. Remember, that when it comes to communicating with someone via the internet, what you see is not always what you get. You don’t really know who’s on the other end. Report scam profiles and other suspicious activity to www.bbb.org and www.ic3.gov.
- You receive instant messages inviting you to become involved in a romantic online chat. BBB has received many calls from individuals who wired money to someone with whom they thought was in a love relationship with them. Scammers use feigned devotion to swindle thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars from their prey. Victims are typically asked to cash a check, keep a portion to pay for expenses, then wire the remainder to the scam artist who, in this case, is the love scam operator.
- You receive an email warning that the gift or flowers you ordered can't be delivered because of a problem with your credit card. You are then directed to a site which asks that you re-enter payment information. Responding to this type of email could leave you with an empty bank account.
- Proceed with caution if you meet someone through an online dating service. Scam artists often create fake profiles to lure vulnerable people into revealing their personal information. Be wary of "free" dating sites. These sites may have less monitoring and protection for subscribers.
Remember the golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. BBB reminds consumers to do their homework before providing anyone with personally identifiable information, particularly account or pin information.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.