BBB: “Romance scams” target people online looking for love

Intoxicating love may be in the air, but keep a clear eye while you’re looking for a partner. Scammers are targeting singles in Richmond and nationwide.

“They know exactly how to romance somebody on the other line,” said Barry N. Moore, the President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Virginia.

That’s how it starts. An innocent message on a dating app or website. Then after days, weeks or months of talking, the relationship turns serious.

“Now the next thing that person will usually say is, well, we need to meet, but, I need some bus money,” Moore said.

Moore says that should be a red flag.

“Every now and again you get a bad apple in a barrel,” he added.

Moore is talking about criminals preying on singles looking for love online. Anyone can be a victim.

“Whether you’re young or you’re old, you always have to be careful,” he said.

Earlier this month, the BBB released a study revealing people in the USA and Canada, over the past three years, have lost nearly $1 billion in so-called “Romance Scams.”

Locally, several cases have been reported to the bureau.

Moore says this is only the “tip of the iceberg.” Many claims go unreported.

“It’s a very embarrassing thing to admit,” he said.

So, how do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

Experts from the BBB say if someone asks you to move onto another website to chat – don’t. Your computer could become infected with a virus or malware.

“Next thing you know, your bank account is drained,” Moore said.

If you share personal information or send over money after a lover asks, Moore says you likely won’t be getting it back.

Even though scammers are out there, Moore says so is a special someone to be yours.

“It’s not the dating sites, there’s anything wrong with them,” Moore said. “Many of them are wonderful sites and are a good way for today’s generations to connect but you have to be aware.”

If this does happen to you, the BBB says you should report it to police. You can also give the bureau a call or check their scam tracker online for any alerts in your area.

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