COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Romance is in the air, but so are romance scams– breaking hearts and busting bank accounts.

According to the FBI, romance scams result in one of the highest amounts of financial losses, when compared to other internet-facilitated crimes. So, whether you’re hoping to spark a new relationship or are buying gifts for loved ones, the FBI, Federal Trade Commission, and Better Business Bureau want you to beware of the scams regularly reported to them.

The Romance Scam

Via social media or a dating site, scammers target vulnerable people who have just gone through a breakup or hardship. They establish a connection, then begin pursuing their true goal — money.
Here are the red flags to look for:

  • The relationship moves quickly
  • You never meet in person
  • They ask you for money outright

Imposter Websites

From fake jewelry sellers to online dating sites, scammers can easily lift official photos or logos from a legitimate website and build one that looks like the real thing, using it to steal personal data and credit card information. You should be wary of:

  • Products that are available at deep discounts
  • Customer service that is unreachable
  • Requests from the seller to pay with a payment app or cryptocurrency

The Wrong Number Scam

Responding to a text message from someone who messaged the wrong number might seem harmless, but it can be used as bait to lure you into a conversation. And if you keep chatting, scammers can eventually gain your trust.

  • The messages don’t stop
  • The sender sends you links to sign up for a website, that turns out to be fake
  • They ask you for personal/private information.

If you encounter a suspected romance scam, cut off all contact. Block the account and phone number. And if you’re concerned about suspicious activity on a dating site, report it to the platform, so they can take action against the account.