FBI warns of online romance scams around Valentine’s Day

Feb 12, 2021, 4:55 AM

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – In an attempt to raise awareness and prevent broken hearts this Valentine’s Day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning the public about online romance scams.

“Romance frauds are a type of online scam in which the criminals who perpetrate them seek to victimize people looking for companionship,” Martin Hellmer, special agent in the FBI’s Phoenix field office, explained.

Romance scams, also called confidence scams, rely on the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to get victims to send money, gift cards or other valuables.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a total of 560 Arizonans fell victim to romance scams and reported more than $12 million in losses in 2020.

That amount doubled what was reported in 2019, according to Hellmer.

He explained the criminals use fake identities to approach possible victims through dating or social media sites, oftentimes pretending to be in the military or a business person overseas.

“Some telltale signs of romance frauds are that the criminals very quickly want to move communication with their intended victims off of the dating sites,” Hellmer said, adding criminals will want to move to text messages or phone calls.

The other person will also often proclaim their love and Hellmer said the biggest sign of a scam is when they ask for money due to an unexpected medical or legal expense.

Hellmer recommends being careful with sharing information online since scammers do their homework to make themselves seem “more attractive.”

He also advised against sharing personal or banking information to avoid becoming part of a bigger crime like money laundering without knowing.

As a standard rule, Hellmer said don’t send money to people you’ve never met – especially if requested online.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

File photo of a Valley Metro bus. A pedestrian was killed when he was hit by a city bus in downtown...

Pedestrian struck, killed by city bus he was trying to stop in downtown Phoenix

A pedestrian was killed when he was hit by a city bus in downtown Phoenix on Monday night, authorities said.

10 minutes ago

Insomnia in the summer may be due to Arizona heat, doctor says...

Serena O'Sullivan

Struggling with insomnia? Arizona summer heat may be to blame, sleep expert says

Arizonans who are dealing with insomnia in the summer months can blame the heat, according to a sleep expert with Banner Health.

4 hours ago

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the Maricopa Coun...

Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website offers self-guided virtual tour of elections center

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the downtown Phoenix elections center.

4 hours ago

Desert tortoises: Do not disturb, AZGFD warns the public...

Wildlife officials warn against disturbing wild desert tortoises

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) urges the public to keep desert tortoises wild.

4 hours ago

Banner Imaging and HeartFlow are collaborating to offer a new program to help new patients detect c...

Banner selected to test Medicare dementia care model

The model will work to increase care coordination and improve access to services and supports, which includes respite care, people living with dementia and their caregivers.

4 hours ago


Police investigating fatal overnight hit-and-run in central Phoenix

Phoenix PD responded to the area of 19th Avenue and Van Buren Street regarding a collision that involved a pedestrian.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

FBI warns of online romance scams around Valentine’s Day