INDIANAPOLIS (NewsNationNow) — Ahead of Valentine’s Day, scammers may be plotting ways to steal your money.
“The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable,” the FBI said in a blog post.
The FBI says it can be hard to realize you’ve been scammed, so they recommend talking to a trusted person about your relationship.
“There’s some kind of shame and embarrassment that comes with that admission, and then they may have a hard time stopping it because they want to believe that it’s real,” explained Spencer Brooks, a special agent from the FBI’s Indianapolis branch.
The money can be hard to recover if it is sent overseas. However, if the scam artists live in the US, then they can be prosecuted.
There are warning signs that someone is a con artist.
They include a person telling you “I love you” very quickly, asking for money, or only speaking online.
The FBI provided these tips to avoid romance scams:
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
The FBI says if you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. If you are the victim of a romance scam, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
NewsNation affiliate WXIN contributed to this report.