Many people have learned it isn’t smart to send money to a Nigerian prince, but what about the nice man you meet online?
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a means of reporting Internet-facilitated crimes, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.
In 2016, the FBI received 1,000 complaints in Texas from victims reporting more than $16 million in losses related to romance scams.
Attorney Jeff Weinstein doesn’t want to see you make that kind of mistake.
“Please run these opportunities by me before you send the money,” Weinstein said. “It’s almost impossible to ever get any of this money back. Once you send it, it’s gone. We don’t charge anything for a call to find out whether these requests are legitimate or not.”
The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do. They spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.
To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you. Always use reputable websites, but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites.
here are some tips from the FBI if you do develop a relationship with someone online:
— Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
— Go slow and ask lots of questions.
— Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
— Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
— Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
— Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. “If you don’t know them, don’t send money,” Beining said. “You will see what their true intentions are after that.”
— If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately.
If you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. https://www.ic3.gov