It may feel like the “Season for Love” this time of year, but we want you to beware of scammers who are trying to weave in fraud to break your heart! In a recent article published by the Federal Trade Commission, people have reported “losing a staggering $1.3 billion to romance scams” in the past five years! Let’s look at that number again…. $1.3 Billion!
What does this mean for you as a Minnequa Works Credit Union Member? This means that fraud and romance scams are impacting individuals in all communities, including right here in Southern Colorado! As your Credit Union, we are here to protect you as much as possible and share what we know about romance scams and other types of fraud to help ensure your heart and wallet isn’t broken!
What is a Romance Scam?
Often, romance scams are developed by scammers that play on a master of disguise and emotional deception. From legitimate dating apps, social media sites, and electronic communication, scammers create fake profiles, often assuming the identify of a real person. Many times, a scammer will say that they are currently living overseas, in the military or for work, or potentially a remote job such as offshore oil rig drilling. These scammers work hard at learning about you, finding interests or hobbies to build on emotion, but then end up having “the catch.”
Just when you are about to finally meet, or have that first date, an emergency happens. They plead for help due to a health crisis, financial crisis, or other type of emergency. Another common situation from a romance scam involves needing to send money for a business deal or inheritance situation that they are bringing you in on since you are now in a “relationship.” The scammer has put time and energy into building an emotional relationship with you, and you have started to build trust in that relationship making it easier to believe the emergency that they are saying….
Even though you may have talked by phone, via text, or email, at this point you have not seen this individual in person….. And then they ask for money….. The first amount of money is sent… and then another excuse comes, another emergency, and another amount of money sent from your account to them via wire transfer, cashiers check, Western Union, or any other means possible….
And, at the end of the romance journey, the individual on the other end of the “relationship” is a scammer and you are left with a heart broken and an empty wallet….
Avoid being a Victim of a Romance Scam
If you’re looking for love online, be sure to protect yourself and think of these tips to avoid being a victim of a Romance Scam:
- Never send money, or forward money, to someone you have never met in person… watch for red flags such as sending by cryptocurrency or by wire transfer
- No one that is in a legitimate business or relationship will ever ask you to help by giving numbers on a gift card for payment
- Talk to us at the Credit Union, or a friend or family Member about the new love interest and pay attention if they are concerned
- Visit the NCUA Fraud Prevention Center for more information on Current Fraud Trends
We know that true love does exist and we hope that you find it in this season of love, but be sure to keep your guard up and watch for red flags of a Romance Scam!
As always, we are here to help and can answer any questions you have!