Beware of Romance Scammers Looking for More Than Love
JACKSONVILLE, FL—The FBI Jacksonville Division is warning residents to take caution when developing new relationships online, as they could be targets of the romance scam. According to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), Florida is among the three states with the highest number of victims of confidence fraud.
The criminals who carry out romance scams target victims via social media with the intention of establishing a relationship as quickly as possible. Romance scammers spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them. As a way to avoid meeting in person, romance scammers often claim to work in the construction industry and engaged in projects outside the U.S. Eventually, when they feel they have gained the trust of their victim, these criminals will request money for a medical emergency or unexpected legal fee.
In 2017, over 15,000 reports of confidence fraud were reported to IC3, with losses of approximately $210 million. Confidence fraud results in the highest amount of financial loss to victims when compared to other online crimes.
Be careful what you post online because scammers can use that information against you, and always assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:
- Research the person’s photo and profile to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect, or quickly asks you to communicate “offline.”
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family.
- Beware if the individual 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.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. And if you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.