Online dating websites and apps are becoming the norm for how to meet that special someone, but unfortunately, you could "match" with a con artist. The Better Business Bureau warns, these schemers create compelling backstories and identities, then trick people into falling for someone who doesn't even exist.
BBB's Rebecca Barr says according to BBB Scam Tracker, Idahoans are falling victim to these scams.
"We recently received a report from a woman in the Magic Valley, who reported losing almost $9,000 to a romance scam. She developed a relationship online with a man who claimed to work as an underwater welder, then said he had a stroke at sea and needed money for medical transport," Barr said.
Barr says the scammers can be very convincing. Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites or social media created by stealing photos and text from real accounts.
"Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can't meet you in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship with you, exchanging photos and romantic messages, even talking on the phone or through a webcam," Barr explained.
"Just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, your new sweetheart has a health issue or family emergency, or wants to plan a visit. No matter the story, the request is the same: they need money. But after you send money, there's another request, and then another. Or the scammer stops communicating altogether. You may also hear some romance schemes referred to as 'catfishing,'" Barr continued.
BBB offers these red flags to look out for when online dating:
- Too good to be true: Scammers offer up good-looking photos and tales of financial success. If they seem "too perfect," your alarm bells should ring.
- Be wary if the person you're talking to is in a hurry to get off the site: Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to communicating through email, messenger, or phone, as many online dating sites monitor for these scams.
- Watch for a relationship that seems to be moving fast: A catfisher will begin speaking of a future together and tell you they love you quickly. They often say they've never felt this way before. They are aiming to build up your trust and mess with your emotions quickly, so that they can request money sooner rather than later.
Better Business Bureau has a number of resources to help you avoid being scammed at www.bbb.org.