'Tis the Season for Romance Scams

'Tis the Season for Romance Scams

          Love is in the air this time of year. While online romance scams are prevalent all year long, officials do cite an increase during this time of year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams were responsible for $1.3 billion in fraudulent claims in the last five years.

            Online dating and social media sites along with the isolation brought on through the pandemic have provided a target rich environment for these scams to soar.

            What do these scams typically look like?  Scammers build fake profiles and claim to be in the military or living abroad. In a rather quick time frame, they establish a relationship that quickly becomes of a serious nature. Next comes the family emergency or desire to plan a trip to meet in person, all a ploy to get money.

            Important red flags:

  • Too good to be true - scammers always offer up very attractive photos and many times, have lived life full of adventure
  • Move from the social platform that brought you together for communication – these savvy “catfishers” will quickly want to cut out the platform and move to direct communication through text, messenger, or phone
  • Love comes too quickly – scammers will quickly begin discussions of building a future together… maybe they’ve never felt this way before… and say they love you. Discussions of establishing trust is key.
  • No in-person meeting – there will always be an excuse to not be able to meet in person.
  • Down on their luck – your new found love will have some version of a hard luck story that only you can help with … well, you and your money.

       Wait! Before you delete your online dating profile and give up on finding love online – educate yourself on how to protect your bank account from these all too savvy cons:

  • Never give out your personal banking information to someone you don’t really know… or have never met in person.
  • Don’t send money to someone you don’t really know… or have never met in person.
  • Use a Google reverse image search to check if the profile picture has been used elsewhere.
  • Do your research – don’t be afraid to ask questions about details in their profile. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to research to make sure the facts check out.

Information is educational in nature and not a solicitation of business from Union Bank. Member FDIC.