FBI warns ‘romance scams’ can lead to heartbreak and financial loss

Feb 5, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: Feb 6, 2020, 6:08 am
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, but the FBI warns it can also lead to heartbreak and financial loss.

The agency cautions there are well-rehearsed criminals searching dating sites, apps, chat rooms and other social media networking sites. They’re trying to build relationships with people for the sole purpose of taking their money and personal information.

“If you do develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, use your due diligence. Slow things down,” said Jeremy Capello, supervisory special agent for the FBI Phoenix field office.

He said research photos and profiles using online search tools. Also avoid sharing financial information, loaning money and allowing your bank account to be used to transfer funds.

“If someone you have not met in person asks you to send them money, that’s the first red flag you’re involved in a romance scam,” Capello added.

Last year, the FBI reported 419 people in Arizona were victims of romance scams with a total loss of about $5.6 million. Those numbers are slightly lower than in 2018, when 429 victims of romance scams were reported and lost nearly $8 million in total.

Capello said older adults tend to be a big target for romance scams because “they often tend to have more money than the younger population from saving their whole lives.” Scammers also pray on young adults with good credit scores.

“Loans are taken out in their names, and the perpetrators often present them with investment opportunities and steal their money that way,” he said about younger adults.

Capello said never meet in a private place with someone you met online.

“Be sure you’re in a public area where plenty of people can see you,” he said. “Make sure someone knows you’re meeting this person and that you regularly check in.”

He also advised not to travel oversees to meet individuals.

“Often the perpetrators pretend to be in the military and stationed overseas, thus creating the inability for the victim to actually meet the perpetrators,” Capello said.

People who suspect they’re victims of a romance scam are advised to report it to their local FBI field office and to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center.

“There’s a level of embarrassment when you do realize you’ve been defrauded or involved in a romance scam,” Capello said. “We advise people to always come forward and help us by reporting so that we can track these perpetrators down.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(AP Photo, File/Nati Harnik)...
Associated Press

Arizona judges reject challenges to 2 voter initiatives for November ballot

Judges rejected challenges to two Arizona voter initiative on Wednesday, siding with proponents of a measure limiting so-called predatory debt collection and for one that would require people who fund political campaigns through nonprofit groups to be identified.
10 hours ago
Colleen Nussnaumer (Photo via Peoria Police Department)...

Missing West Valley woman found safe, Silver Alert canceled

A Silver Alert for a missing West Valley woman was canceled Thursday after she was found safe, authorities said.
10 hours ago
Gary Moddrell (Photo via Peoria Police Department)...

Silver Alert issued for Peoria man with memory problems

A Silver Alert was issued for a Peoria man who has been missing since Tuesday, authorities said.
10 hours ago
Angela Pike watches her fourth grade students at Lakewood Elementary School in Cecilia, Ky., as the...
Griselda Zetino

Where are the teachers? A look at Arizona’s struggle to fill positions

Elementary teachers are some of the hardest jobs to fill for schools in Arizona, according to a recent survey.
10 hours ago
(City of Phoenix Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Hundreds of weapons seized since start of Phoenix crackdown on gun crime

More than 700 firearms have been taken out of the wrong hands since Phoenix implemented its Operation Gun Crime Crackdown last month, the city said Wednesday.
10 hours ago
A doctor shows a monkeypox sore on a patient´s foot at the Arzobispo Loayza hospital in Lima, Peru...

Arizona health department launches monkeypox resource page

Arizona health officials launched a monkeypox web page with information and resources to help the community better understand the outbreak.
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
FBI warns ‘romance scams’ can lead to heartbreak and financial loss