LEE COUNTY, Fla. --- The Lee County Sheriff's office is warning residents to guard their wallets and hearts in a new scam.
Scammers are posing as online love interest in a scam commonly known as, "romance scam."
According to LCSO their fraud hotline has seen an increase in calls from victims and their family members reporting con-artist posing as the perfect love interest.
LCSO says scammers are using popular social media and internet dating sites to lure victims into fraudulent relationships.
Despite the expertise in deception and draining bank accounts these cybercriminals possess, the tips below can help detect whether or not that new sweetheart is a dream or a nightmare:
- If you receive a “friend” request from someone you do not know and they quickly want to develop a relationship, be suspicious. Too much, too fast can lead to disaster.
- If this new “person” quickly urges you to move your conversations off of Facebook or an online dating service and onto other messaging platforms, be suspicious. Not only does this help them organize their conversations with multiple victims, it also allows them to take down their phony online profile before you discover it.
- Scammers generally claim to be from the United States but just happen to be overseas for business or family matters, are deployed in the military, working in “mining” fields or the “construction” industry, or on an oil rig.
- Ironically, you have many things in common with your new “friend”, such as the loss of a spouse, child, or parent. In fact, it’s nearly unbelievable how your lives seem to be so relatable. This alone should raise your suspicions.
- Cybercriminals are patient. As your fairytale romance progresses and you are now emotionally involved, it will be time for them to pounce. You will be asked for money to help pay for travel costs so the two of you can meet, help pay a medical bill or assist with a financial difficulty.
The romance scam is a billion-dollar internet scheme that entraps victims of all ages and can cause long-term effects both financially and emotionally. If you think you’ve been or are being scammed, contact the sheriff’s office fraud line at 258-3292, or ic3.gov.