HOUSTON – The FBI is warning the public about a new “romance scam” that could leave victims with a broken heart and an empty bank account.
According to the warning, scammers will make the victim believe he or she is in some sort of relationship with the scammer, be it friendly, family or romantic.
The scammers will often keep detailed notes about the victim in order to better manipulate them into sending money, personal and financial information, items of value or even launder money, the FBI said.
In order to stay safe and avoid falling victim to the scheme, the FBI has these tips:
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask lots of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
- 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 an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
If you suspect you may be involved in such a scam, the FBI advises you to immediately stop all contact and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.