BBB Warns of "Romance Scams" Ahead of Valentine's Day

Scam Alert

LUBBOCK, TX - According to the Better Business Bureau, the days leading right up to Valentine's Day tend to be the peak season for "online romance scams."

How it works: a user logs into either a dating website or online chat room and strikes up a conversation with another user, the scammer, who then persuades them to send them money, often in the hundreds or thousands. 

Ashley Tyler, the director of marketing and communications for the Lubbock Better Business Bureau , explained that the reason there are more cases of these scams going around at this time of year is simply because people are taking to the Internet for dates on Valentine's Day. 

"They [scammers] see a lot more traffic on the dating sites because a lot of people want to have a date on Valentine's Day, and you're more willing to settle for any random profile that you can maybe talk to on Valentine's Day, but they'll never meet you in person."

Tyler explained that the conversation between the online user and scammer will go on for months at a time. The end result often being that the victim is out thousands of dollars, or even bankrupt.

"There have been billions of dollars lost in these scams," said Tyler. "It's a little different than your typical online scam because they are getting to know the other person, starting a relationship, and it's going on for months and months and they're asking them to either come visit them or for an emergency, so it's definitely a little trickier than your typical scam asking for money." 

Tyler laid out examples of red flags to keep an eye out for:

- Scammers proclaiming their "love" for the user early into the conversation.

- The conversation continues and the scanner repeatedly asks for money, although they are constantly unable to ever meet in person or avoids the commitment of doing so. 

- If the user is adamant about sending money, advise them to do so through the state since a government I.D. will be required of the person receiving the funds. 

According to the Better Business Bureau, the victim most commonly targeted in these scams tend to be women over the age of 50-years-old, however it can happen to anyone. 

Some good news though: Tyler explained that more legitimate dating websites are cracking down on potential scammers committing fraud.  

If you or someone you know may be becoming a target in an online romance scam, they are encouraged to contact the Better Business Bureau for help: 806-763-0459. 

For more information on online romance scams and the different forms they may take, click here. 

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