Just in time for Valentines Day, Better Business Bureau says romance scams are costing victims thousands of dollars.
BBB's Dale Dixon explains one Idaho woman's nightmare after using an online dating site.
"According to the BBB Scam Tracker report, the woman said she began talking to a guy who called himself 'Brad.' Brad sent pictures, texts, emails, and even pictures of his passport. He was supposedly from the U.K. Pretty soon, he asked for help to send a shipment to New York. Unfortunately, the woman gave him the money, over $6,000, which he promised to pay back. Of course, as soon as he got the money, he disappeared," Dixon said.
Dixon says it's important to recognize the common themes among these romance scams.
"Often times, con artists pull at heart strings and claim to be a service member on deployment or on a 'secret mission' to justify not being able to meet in person. One version of this con has the victim paying to bring their love interest home. Last year a woman reported to BBB she lost an estimated $5,000 on what she thought was transportation and medical fees for a man who said he was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan," Dixon said.
BBB recommends watching for these red flags if you're looking for love online:
Requests for money. Be wary when an online suitor asks for money to pay for transportation costs, communication fees, marriage processing or medical fees. Beware of visiting any links they send, downloading anything or giving them bank account or other personal information.
Limited communication. It’s a big red flag if they refuse to communicate on the phone or in person. But, just because you do get a phone call doesn’t mean everything checks out. Stay vigilant.
Don’t fall for automatic messaging. When a user messages instantly and types at a fast pace with generic responses, this is most likely a computer-generated scam bot. Some bots target users and attempt to pressure them into sending money or getting them to install malware on their computers.
For more information, or to report a scam visit www.bbb.org .