Friday, February 2, 2024
Valentine’s Day is approaching, and while celebrating love and finding a connection is exciting, scammers leave people heartbroken far too often. Sweetheart scammers prey on people who are looking for love or even just friendship, and often target unsuspecting seniors. The scammer will befriend a potential victim on social media or dating sites. Once they’ve earned a victim’s trust and established a connection, the scammer will start asking for money. Often, the scammer says the money is to buy tickets to come visit the victim or to help with a medical emergency. Because of the connection the victim feels, they pay up.
Unfortunately, our office hears reports of these sweetheart scammers at alarming rates. In 2023, we received 71 complaints representing more than $2.3 million in total losses. Make sure you are protecting your heart and wallet and watch out for these red flags:
- Sweetheart scammers often claim to be a U.S. citizen traveling or working overseas.
- They may pretend to have a mutual connection. Be careful to verify this information before you start communicating.
- The scammer may wait months before they ask for money so they can build a relationship and gain your trust. Sometimes, this type of scammer will try to get you to invest in cryptocurrency.
- They may promise to come to the U.S., but need money to resolve a roadblock – loans, the cost of flights, a family issue, etc.
- If an online love interest ever asks you for money, it’s usually a scam.
- If you fall prey to a sweetheart scam, there’s a good chance the scammer (or different scammers) will later try to lure you into a different scam.
You can learn more about how to avoid sweetheart scams at www.ncdoj.gov/sweetheart. If anyone contacts you and you’re unsure of their authenticity or if you believe you have been the victim of a scam, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at www.ncdoj.gov/complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.