RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s that time of year where love is in the air, but the Richmond FBI Office is warning that it could also lead to heartbreak, embarrassment and financial loss.
The FBI is warning that criminals will be searching dating sites, apps, chat rooms and other social media networking sites in an attempt to build a “relationship” with the goal of getting money or personal information.
The Richmond FBI released the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Only use reputable, nationally-recognized dating websites; however be aware that scammers may be using them too.
- Research photos and profiles in other online search tools and ask questions.
- Never provide your financial information, loan money, nor allow your bank accounts to be used for transfers of funds.
- Do not allow attempts to isolate you from family and friends.
- Do not blindly believe the stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, family deaths, injuries, or other hardships geared at keeping your interest and concern.
- If you are planning to meet someone in person you have met online, meet in a public place and let someone know where you will be and what time you should return home.
- If you are traveling to a foreign country to meet someone check the State Department’s Travel Advisories beforehand (http://travel.state.gov/), provide your itinerary to family and friends, and do not travel alone if possible.
“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,” the FBI said in a release.
If you think your relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately.
The FBI also says that if you have already sent money, report it immediately to your financial institution and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center and contact local law enforcement.
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