Charleston, WV (WOAY) -Attorney General Patrick Morrisey advises consumers to be careful when using online dating services in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.
Scammers typically use the holiday to admit strong feelings towards individuals to get money out of them.
Criminals may say they need money to cover traveling expenses to meet their intended targets or help a family member in trouble.
Attorney General Morrisey states there are things consumers can do to protect themselves, such as:
- Doing background research on the person, especially if the contact starts through an unsolicited private message on social media.
- Running reverse image searches on profile pictures using search engines like Google and Bing or services like TinEye or SauceNAO.
- Never wiring money to someone without verifying the person’s authenticity or the reason for sending the money.
- Never send money via cash or gift cards because funds cannot be recovered. If you send funds through wire transfer, you may not be able to recoup the funds unless the transfer is canceled before pick-up.
- Be wary of someone who always makes excuses or “has something come up” whenever plans are made to meet in person after they have received money.
- Take note if you are made to feel isolated or cut off from family and friends. This is a red flag.
Anyone who believes they are a victim of an online dating scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808.