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Arizona AG warns about Valentine’s Day romance scammers

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – That romantic interest who popped into your online life as Valentine’s Day approached may be after more than your heart, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich warned.

“What we are seeing, especially this time of year, is the crooks, the con artists, they take advantage of these holidays,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona Morning News on Thursday.

Brnovich said scammers scour social media profiles for people who appear to be lonely or may have been in a recent breakup.

“They’ll try to reach out to them, try to form some sort of relationship, isolate them maybe a little bit, and then eventually ask them for money,” he said.

The fraudsters may say they are stuck in a foreign country or at an airport and need financial help to get home or visit.

“It’s an old con and it just takes on different forms these days,” Brnovich said.

The elderly are especially susceptible.

For example, a woman was recently stranded in Arizona after flying from Illinois to meet a man she thought she was going to marry. A Gilbert police officer bought her a plane ticket home after learning she’d been scammed out of all her money.

“We always tell people, if someone tries to isolate you, always be really skeptical of someone you recently met asking you for money or prepaid gift cards,” Brnovich said.

People can protect themselves by doing reverse image searches or Google searches of information in suitors’ profiles to see if it may have been copied and pasted.

“There’s things you can do, but the number one thing is to be skeptical,” Brnovich said.

“I hate to say that because I’m a romantic at heart, but nowadays you just never know with people.”

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