Whether you love it or hate it technology is all around us. We can sign loan documents on mobile devices, make dinner reservations and even shop for a new home, all from the comfort of – well, anywhere. Convenience can come at a cost, though.
Did you know the first modern dating site went live in 1994? With mobile devices and social media, meeting someone online has never been easier, but without the right precautions it can also be costly.
In 2018, roughly 21,000 sweetheart scam reports were filed with losses exceeding $143 million. What is a sweetheart or romance scam? A sweetheart scam is perpetrated when the scammer engages someone with the hope of romance or companionship. Scammers often find images online and turn them into a dating profile or a social media account (e.g. Facebook, Instagram etc.).
It often takes time for scammers to gain the trust of their victims. Scammers may spend weeks and months exchanging messages and phone calls with their targets. Often the scammers will ask [directly or indirectly] for money for a car repair, a medical expense, to help a family member or claim to be stranded somewhere without the means to get home. More often then not scammers request a wire or gift cards. Both means are nearly impossible to reverse and even harder to track once the money is gone.
If you or someone you know are or have been a victim do not be embarrassed. These scammers are professionals and know how to manipulate and prey on people. The best prevention is education. Educate yourself and those around you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says “Play it safe”-
- Never send money to someone you have not met in-person.
- Tell someone about the new relationship. It can be hard to have perspective when you are swept-up in a new relationship. If someone close to you is concerned, take notice.
- Take the new relationship slow. It is recommended that you ask questions and note any inconsistencies in your sweetheart’s answers.
- If you suspect a romance scam, cut off communication immediately. Report the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
- Talk to your credit union. Your credit union professionals get the latest information on scams, vulnerabilities and trends in the industry. While it may be embarrassing to discuss know that your credit union is here to not to judge but to help. Trademark does not want any Member losing their hard-earned money.
For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission https://www.ftc.gov/imposters.