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Watch out for these viral Valentine's Day scams
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Security & privacy

Valentine’s Day scams and red flags you need to watch for

Every year before Valentine’s Day, romantic hopefuls flock to shops to find the perfect gift for their partners. Whether it is a box of chocolates or a dozen roses, the day is supposed to be a celebration of all things love.

But as we have pointed out on many occasions, if something is popular, you can bet your bottom dollar that scammers won’t be far behind. And unfortunately, lovers won’t be spared this year. Even the FBI has warned about online romance fraud.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, scammers are out in full force. Keep reading for some red flags to watch for.

Here’s the backstory

Scams involving romantic connections aren’t limited to Valentine’s Day, but there is always a spike in them around this time. The most popular trick that criminals use is the romance scam. Matching with people on dating apps, scammers will often work on potential partners for a few weeks.

Romance scammers typically target vulnerable people who have experienced a recent breakup. They take advantage of that heartbreak to establish a connection and gain sympathy.

Once trust has been built, the criminals ask for money. And it never stops with initial small money requests. The amounts asked for will keep getting more significant. And they never only have one target, often fleecing multiple hopefuls at a time.

As the Better Business Bureau (BBB) points out, there are often tell-tale signs that you could be part of a romance scam. Here are some red flags to look for:

  • The relationship moves too fast.
  • Your partner is hesitant to meet in person.
  • They regularly ask for money with the promise of paying it back but never do.

Romance scams are just the tip of the iceberg. There are other schemes to be aware of.

More scams to look out for

Imposter site scams

Other scams that prey on Valentine’s Day participants involve fake jewelry or gifts. The National Retail Federation estimates nearly $24 billion will be spent on gifts this year. That alone makes the counterfeit jewelry market a lucrative opportunity.

Fake websites often sell items marked as genuine products, but once you get your package, you’ll realize that they are nothing more than cheap knock-offs. In some cases, you might not even receive the delivery at all. Tap or click here to see how thieves target people shopping for vintage items.

Things to look out for:

  • Products are sold at incredibly low prices.
  • Payment on the website is only through wire transfer or cryptocurrency.
  • The company’s telephone number doesn’t seem to work, and the email address remains unanswered.
  • The shop will claim that stocks are low in supply, so you need to hurry.
  • There could be multiple spelling mistakes in the text.

Fake florist scam

Ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day is very common. But the BBB warns that you need to be careful who you’re ordering flowers from.

BBB says it’s received many reports of shoppers who thought they were ordering flowers from an online florist but either got nothing at all or a disappointing arrangement. Here are red flags to watch for:

  • The business has no reviews or bad reviews (always check BBB.org before ordering)
  • You can’t find a return policy or satisfaction guarantee.
  • The deal is too good to be true.

If you encounter a suspected scam this Valentine’s Day, cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number.

Then, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Dating site users should also report suspicious activity to the dating platform to take action against the scammer’s account. 

Keep reading

FBI warning: Avoid these romance scams that have cost victims millions

Scammers have a clever new way to trick shoppers into wasting money

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