MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Love is in the air and there are people looking to make an illegal buck off of it. Jamie Harding with AARP Alabama joins us. Here’s a look at our conversation:
ANCHOR: With Valentine’s Day this month, millions of singles of all ages are looking for love. And many of them have been targets of romance scams. According to a survey conducted last month by AARP, more than one-in-four adults in the U.S. say they or someone they know has been targeted.
What is a Romance Scam?
GUEST: These scams can arise from online dating sites as well as social media, such as Facebook. Someone will send a message in response to a person’s profile, complimenting them on their photo or otherwise send a lot of over-the-top flattery. This is how they get started with the dialogue and they work to gain your interest and trust over time.
ANCHOR: What are some of the signs that they could be scammers?
GUEST: Your new romantic interest sends you a picture that looks more like a model from a fashion magazine than an ordinary snapshot.
· The person quickly wants to leave the dating website and communicate with you through email or instant messaging.
· He or she lavishes you with attention. Swindlers often inundate prospective marks with texts, emails and phone calls to draw them in.
· He or she repeatedly promises to meet you in person but always seems to come up with an excuse to cancel. They may claim to be in the military or traveling overseas for an extended time.
Once they gain your trust over weeks or months, they start asking to “borrow” money for the various “emergencies” they are having – personal or business.
ANCHOR: What kind of precautions should people use with dating sites?
GUEST: Take things slowly. Ask your potential partner a lot of questions, and watch for inconsistencies that might reveal an impostor.
· Check their photo by using Google’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up elsewhere with a different name attached to it, that’s a sign a scammer may have stolen it.
· Be wary of flirtatious and overly complimentary emails.
· Cut off contact immediately if you begin to suspect that the individual may be a scammer.
· Notify the dating site on which you met the scammer.
ANCHOR: Where can people find more information to stay safe from scams and fraud?
GUEST: you have the power to protect yourself! Start by visiting the AARP Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork – it’s a free resource for everyone, where you will find: information about the latest scams, a scam-tracking map, and sign up for our biweekly Watchdog Alerts.
Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to report a scam or for victim assistance: 1-866-908-3360
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