Online Dating Services May Promise “Love in the Air,” but be Aware
February 8, 2012
Contact: Jerad Albracht, 608-224-5007
Jim Dick, Communications Director, 608-224-5020
MADISON – Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air, but if you are searching online for a potential mate, know that scammers may be on the same sites searching for you…and your money.
“The popularity of online dating sites has led to a rise in so-called ‘sweetheart scams’ where crooks seek out victims when they are at their most vulnerable,” said Sandy Chalmers, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “For singles on the search for love, emotions are high and can cloud better judgment. Scammers know this scenario creates an excellent opportunity to manipulate victims into handing over money and personal information.”
Sweetheart scams take on a number of forms, but most involve scammers starting relationships online under fake profiles, building the trust of the victims and then using a “sob story” to convince the victims to send them money or personal information. The money is often requested as a wire transfer to another country.
Be on the lookout for a scam if your online love interest:
- asks you to leave the dating site and communicate by personal email or instant messages
- professes love for you in a heartbeat
- requests that you send personal information including social security, bank account or credit card numbers
- claims to be from the U.S., but is “traveling” or “working overseas” right now
- makes plans to visit, but cancels the trip because of a last-minute medical, financial or family emergency
- asks you to send money by wire transfer to pay for airfare, visas, government documents or to help a family member in distress. Never wire money to someone you do not know or have not met in person. Wiring money is like sending cash – once it is gone, you cannot get it back.
“Regardless of the length of your relationship or the story the other party is giving you, if your online partner starts requesting money, it should send up a red flag that you are being drawn into a scam,” added Chalmers.
For more information or to file a consumer complaint, visit Consumer Protection’s website at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to email@example.com or call toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.
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