Valentine’s Day brings out a combination of romantics, would-be romantics and, apparently, criminals looking to take advantage of the lonely.
For this reason, Pennsylvania’s Department of Banking and Securities is warning consumers about the dangers of online scams when a person on the Internet is not who they claim to be – so-called “catfishing” — and offers advice on how people can protect themselves from these financial frauds.
One online scam that can be particularly popular around Valentine’s Day is the “Romance Scam.” This all-too-common scheme preys on victims’ hopes of emotional connection and can result in them opening their wallets to someone they have never met in person.
There are no shortage of online schemes, including foreign lottery emails, fake charity solicitations, and classified advertisement scams, all of which rely on a lack of face-to-face contact with the victim.
In order to protect yourself:
- Avoid giving too many personal details about yourself to anyone on the Internet until you are confident that you have come to know that person well.
- Search for information about people you meet on the Internet using Google or other search engines and pay attention if information about a person shows up with multiple names attached or if his or her photo appears on a stock photo website.
- Never send money or provide financial information to someone you have not met.
You could add in there that if something seems too good to be true, it is.