CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Love is sweet but it can quickly turn sour if you're not careful, thanks to what the FBI calls "romance scams."
These crimes, also known as "confidence fraud," tend to peak around Valentine's Day. The local FBI office in Charlotte says romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims compared to other online crimes.
Investigators say scammers will establish a relationship with online daters. Eventually, they ask for money by providing excuses like medical emergencies. In 2016, which is the most recent data published, almost 15,000 reported complaints were categorized as romance scams, according to the FBI.
The losses associated with these crimes exceeded $230 million.
Here are some tips from the FBI to help protect you and your money:
- Do research on the people you meet online and check their social media
- Ask lots of questions
- Never send money to anyone you don't know personally
Locally, Huntersville Police has some advice to protect customers who are buying Valentine's Day gifts this week:
- If you are buying flowers online, be sure to research the business to ensure they're legitimate before ordering
- Be cautions of emails boasting great deals on Valentine's Day-themed gifts. Minor typos are a major red flag
- Remember: If it's too good to be true, it probably is