Looking for love? Beware of romance scams

(Associated Press)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Department of Banking and Securities is sending a warning to those willing to open their hearts to strangers around Valentine’s Day.

A particularly popular con this time of year is the “Romance Scam,” which occurs when scammers prey on someone’s hopes to connect with a person they’ve never met. Instead, victims end up filling the pockets of those who make insincere promises of love.

State officials recently updated a publication on scams, which includes information about “catfishing,” false charity solicitations and foreign lottery emails.

According to a report by the FBI, 372 Pennsylvanians lost over $6 million to confidence fraud/romance fraud in 2015. All ages are potential targets.

“While some people do develop legitimate social and business relationships online, it is important for consumers to recognize potential red flags that may indicate an online ‘connection’ has ulterior financial motives,” Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann said in a release.

Officials advise keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid giving too many personal details about yourself to anyone online until you are confident that you have come to know that person well.
  • Search for information about people you meet online using search engines and pay attention if information about a person shows up with multiple names attached or if their photo appears on websites for stock photos.
  • Never send money or give out financial information to someone you have not met.

Anyone who feels they have been a scam victim can complain to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General at 1-800-441-2555 or file a complaint online with the FBI.

For information about financial transactions or companies, call the Department of Banking and Security at 1-800-PA-BANKS.

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