As Valentine’s Day approaches, Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection is reminding folks that internet romances can lead to complicated scams.
Romance scams can happen through email, dating sites or other social media and the OCP says single, widowed and recently divorced people are at particular risk of falling victim.
The scams usually involve the scammer requesting money and might even start with the scammer paying back the money at first:
They may even send pictures of other people and can spend months gaining the trust of the victim. The scammer may periodically ask for money and may even pay it back to build up trust. As the relationship develops, the scammer may ask for larger quantities of money or may plan a face-to-face meeting with the victim. The swindler will ask the victim to wire the money to him or her, and, if travel plans are involved, the scammer will ask for financial help to cover the travel expenses.
The scammer may continue asking for money until the victim can no longer send money or they may simply stop all communication, leaving the victim with losses in the thousands.
So this Valentine’s Day, the OCP is urging singles to use only legitimate dating sites, not to send money to people you haven’t met and try to video chat up your internet romance to verify you’re actually talking to the person in the photo.