NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With Valentine’s Day approaching, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky about the risk of romance scams.
According to the BBB, romance scammers trick victims into believing they are involved in trusting relationships.
The organization said most romance scams start with fake profiles on dating sites, with scammers often claiming they’re serving in the military or working overseas to justify their inability to meet in person.
Within a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship, exchanges photos and romantic messages, and sometimes even talks on the phone to deepen their connection with the victim.
Then, when the relationship looks like it’s getting serious, the scammer allegedly develops a health issue, has a family emergency, or makes plans to visit the victim.
“The romance scam stories are all similar because there is always a request for money. After the money is sent, there is sometimes a request for more money or the scammer stops communicating altogether,” said Robyn Householder, president and CEO of BBB Serving Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. “If someone you recently met requests money from you, we suggest saying no.”
The BBB said the following three actions can help you avoid falling for romance scams:
- Use a reverse Image Look tool.
- Many online dating scams use fake pictures of handsome men and beautiful women in order to attract victims, so the BBB recommends visiting images.google.com or tineye.com, which will allow you to put in the pictures and find out whether they’re being used elsewhere. If the photos are attached to different profiles and people, that serves as a major warning sign.
- Check reviews before creating a profile on a website or app.
- Officials suggest typing in the words ‘complaints’, ‘reviews’, or ‘scams’, along with the name of the site or app so you can see what others think about it.
- Don’t send money or personal info that can be used for identity theft to someone you’ve never met in person.
- If someone starts asking you for your credit card information, bank account details, government ID numbers, etc. — even if they say they’re using it to book a ticket to visit you — cut off communication with them.
If you witness suspected fraud, you are encouraged to report it to the BBB’s Scam Tracker, as well as file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) either online or by calling 877-FTC-Help.