What's Love Got To Do With It?

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office warns you to be on the lookout for online “sweethearts” offering sweet expressions of love and posing as the perfect soul mate in a con known as the “Romance Scam”. Sadly, this internet scheme entraps victims of all ages regardless of their socio or economic background and can cause long-term devastating effects both financially and emotionally to those lured into “love” by a cybercriminals deception.  

 Utilizing social media and popular internet dating sites, scammers relentlessly search for unsuspecting victims looking for companionship and then exploit the vulnerability of the victim by creating an exciting, but temporary, love affair.

 If you or someone you know utilizes online dating services, social networking sites, chat rooms or instant messaging applications it is important you recognize the red flags of a swindler before they break your heart and your bank account.

  1.  Love happens quickly. You’ve just started chatting with this special someone and they are already claiming you are their soulmate. The awkward stage of a new relationship is instantly bypassed and goes right to falling in love.
  2. Similarities are remarkable. Ironically, they share many things in common with you such as the loss of a spouse/child/parent. As time goes on, they begin to weave a tragic tale.
  3. Communication is sketchy. They claim to be from the U.S. but are currently overseas for business or family matters. Excuses are constantly made as to why they can’t connect with you through applications such as Skype or FaceTime.
  4. They avoid personal questions. Details are often limited and their story may change.
  5. Money, money, money. As the fairy tale romance progresses, they eventually ask for money to help overcome a financial hardship, cover travel costs so the two of you can meet, or a myriad of other reasons. They may ask you to purchase gift cards, send cash, or ship items like cell phones and computers.

 To obtain more information about Romance Scams, call the Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 258-3292 or visit www.romancescams.org