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Some scammers aim for your heart … and your wallet

Retired Community Manager

Some scammers aim for your heart … and your wallet

The pandemic has many of us being apart from those we care about. Some of the most heartless scammers seek to take advantage of this aloneness by tugging at heartstrings as a way to steal money. But be warned — “romance” scammers don’t limit themselves only to dating sites.


How It Works

  • Scammers troll all online social venues — from Facebook to Words With Friends, and from dating sites to your neighborhood Listserv — looking to build personal rapport.
  • What begins as a friendly encounter becomes something more, and soon your conversations move to text or another platform.
  • Your new friend — even love interest — claims to be abroad with the military or perhaps working in another state or country.


What You Should Know

  • Plans to meet in person always fall through — and the pandemic offers a believable excuse.
  • Eventually, following weeks or even months of regular contact, there will come an urgent plea for financial help — perhaps to help deal with a business or medical emergency.
  • You may be asked to send money by wire transfer or to buy gift cards and share the information off the back; you may even be asked to open a joint bank account or to send and receive money or packages on your love interest’s behalf.
  • Eventually, the “relationship” ends — either by the love interest disappearing or when you realize it’s a scam.


What You Should Do

  • Be on your guard when meeting new friends online; it’s too easy for impostors to pretend to be someone they aren’t.
  • If you have a photo of them, use your browser’s image search feature to see if it shows up as someone other than who you believe it to be.
  • Cut off contact immediately if you suspect the person is a scammer.
  • Notify the platform (Facebook, dating site, Listserv, etc.).
  • Report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.
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