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FBI warns against online dating scams before Valentine’s Day

Hey, folks, we have some bad news for you: That super hot guy/girl that started messaging you on the other day, completely out of the blue? They may not be real.

Millions of Americans are hoping for that magic person to come along around Valentine’s Day and a lot of those turn to online dating sites to find “the one.” But according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the love-focused holiday sees an increase of online dating scams.

The scammers normally contact lonely singles and establish a relationship. They trick the victim into thinking they have something special and may even send them gifts. But then a disaster strikes and the victim is the only person who can help them out of a tough financial situation.

The victim, being a nice person, sends money. They never see it again. Some scammers even ask the victims to cash checks or forward them packages, unwittingly becoming an accomplice in a money-laundering scheme or worse.

Another scam is where the criminal will record or photograph a conversation and post it online, declaring the victim a “cheater.” The criminal will then ask for money to remove the post.

Who do scammers target? While they’ll generally take what they can get, the most common are women over the age of 40 who are separated, divorced or disabled.