February 14th is the celebration of St. Valentine aka Valentine’s Day.
St. Valentine is reported to be a Roman priest and physician who, depending on which version you believe, either married couples to save the husbands from war, or healed his jailer’s daughter from blindness and sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine”.
Just as the story has a heartwarming thread the truth is really unknown. It is just like the stories being told to countless individuals on social media, dating sites, and over the phone. The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2021 romance scam’s netted the scam artists $547 million. That’s an 80% increase compared to 2020!
Romance scam artists use fake photos (photos of other people) from the internet and create fictional life stories that are almost believable. Their stories will match up with what you want to hear. Once they have you on the hook they ask for money. It may be a small amount at first because their laptop was just stolen, or their car broke down, or their bank made an error and they promise to pay you back. Each time you ask for the money back there is an excuse. The median loss is $2,400. Some people lost A LOT more.
Scammers scam people for a living. They wake up in the morning and check the obituaries-any new widows or widowers in need of a new “friend”? Let’s check the dating sites-anyone looking for love? Who is listed as single on social media? All are targets.
Here are 5 Red Flags it’s Bad Love
- Their pictures are perfect. Seriously, who has a personal photographer following them around to get the perfect shot as they hike the mountain or walk the beach at sunset?
- Don’t accept Friend or Follow requests from people you don’t know. I’m confident that guy who wants to connect on social media who is a neurosurgeon at the World Health Organization is looking for love in all the wrong places.
- They LOVE YOU! You are indeed loveable but do they really know you well enough in such a short time without ever having met you in person? Be wary when they profess love and soulmate-ness before you’ve even sat and had a cup of coffee with them.
- Text, email and phone is the only way they want to communicate. They avoid videochat because you might see they are a worker in a large scale phone scam call center. (Yes-many work in call centers-remember scamming you is their JOB)
- They ask too many questions-when were you born, what are your kids names, what was your first car, what’s your pets name, what elementary school did you go to, what’s your home address and zip code, what concert did you first go to-these are all bank security questions. (BTW-take this information OFF your social profiles and stop playing those games on social media that ask these questions.)