NEWARK, NJ -- Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and the FBI's Newark Field Office wants to make the public aware of possible romance scams.

Romance scams occur when a criminal uses a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust.

These scammers are present on most dating and social media sites. They look to establish a relationship as quickly as possible and endear themselves to the victim. Many may propose marriage and make plans to meet in person. Eventually, they will ask for money.

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To avoid becoming a victim, FBI Newark recommends the following:

Tips for Avoiding Romance Scams:

  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
  • 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 have only communicated with online or by phone.

Victims may be hesitant to report being taken advantage of due to embarrassment, shame, or humiliation. It’s important to remember, romance scams can happen to anyone at any time.

If you suspect your online relationship is a scam, cease all contact immediately. If you are a victim who has already sent money, immediately report the incident to your financial institution, file a complaint with the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and contact law enforcement.

 

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