Keep your heart in check to avoid scams
The FBI is warning ahead of Valentine’s Day about “confidence and romance” scams in which people looking for love are duped out of money.
The agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center report for 2021 — the most recent data available — lists 147 such crimes in Kansas.
Kansans lost $4,487,069 in confidence/romance scams — the second-highest amount in categories tracked by the complaint center, the report indicates.
Such crimes have occurred locally.
In October, former Marion police chief Clinton Jeffrey and former assistant police chief Steve Janzen talked to the Record about an uptick in residents who became victims of scam artists.
Some of the scams involved men sweeping middle-aged or older women off their feet on social media and then asking for money, credit cards, or gift cards. It’s possible the scam artists weren’t men.
One scammer, Jeffrey said, took on a celebrity’s identity. The woman thought he was who he said he was.
He asked her to send money to “his” charity. Eventually, the woman realized the man likely wasn’t who he said he was.
The FBI gives these tips to avoid romance scams:
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see whether the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with excuses why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.