Beware Sweetheart Scams

Word Writing Text Romance Scam. Business Concept For Dating Cheat Love Embarrassed Fraud Cyber Couple Affair Written By Man On Notebook Book Holding Marker On The Plain Background Coffee Cup

Have you met someone new? Don’t give them money!

Romance or “Sweetheart” scams are one of the most common fraudulent schemes

  • Florida is among the states with the most victims
  • February, especially around Valentine’s Day, is the most vulnerable time of the year
  • Seniors are the age-group most often targeted by scammers

    • Seniors are more trusting of strangers and more likely to help people in trouble
    • Many seniors have lost a spouse or partner and are looking for companionship
    • Seniors have accumulated a lifetime of savings and often own homes and other property

Could you become a target?

  • You meet someone new
    • In person at the gym, church, the store, the library, a waiting room
    • Online on Facebook, Messenger, or a dating website
  • Your new friend spend a lot of time speaking to you, sending lots of emails or texts
    • Many times your new friend lives or works outside of the U.S., so they can’t meet in person
  • The relationship develops very quickly

    • You make an emotional connection; you are not so alone any more
  • Then suddenly your new friend needs money or help from you to solve a crisis
    • Family situation? Medical emergency? Business opportunity? Government problem?
    • Travel expenses? Lost wallet? Asks you to deposit a check into your account or cash a check for them?
  • It may start with a small favor but your new friend will keep making more requests

This new friend may be tricking you!

  • They may not be who they say they are; scammers use fake photos, create false identities, even make up locations
    • They go to great lengths to invent a profile that appeals especially to you
    • They may say they own property near you, convince you they know your friends, work in your same industry, have similar interests, belong to the same clubs, be looking for a life partner just like you
    • They read and study your personal information on social media or the Internet or “sucker lists”
  • This person could be a criminal who is trying to steal your money along with your self-confidence

Protect yourself

  • Don’t give out your credit card information or bank account number; don’t do wire transfers
  • Don’t transfer property or cars to your new friend or add their names to titles or deeds
  • Don’t buy them costly items or borrow against your home or retirement account to help your new friend
  • Don’t buy gift cards or iTunes cards to send
  • Don’t send revealing photos or intimate videotapes of yourself to your new friend

If you’ve been a victim, take action to regain your power

  • Contact local law enforcement
    • Also call the Florida Attorney General Fraud Helpline 866-966-7226
    • File an Internet Crime Complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov
    • You may help an investigator build a case to stop others from getting scammed or
      defrauded
  • Get a 2nd opinion: consult people you trust if you are suspicious or concerned
    • Consider speaking with your financial advisor, accountant, attorney, clergyperson, and/or close friends and family


Report that Scam

Federal Trade Commission

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Postal Inspection Service