Feds warn romance scammers now using military member photos to con you out of money

Federal Trade Commission issues warning

INDIANAPOLIS—If you’re looking for love this summer, you should be careful you’re not falling for a scammer instead.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning Tuesday to consumers about an increase in online romance scams, which tripled between 2012 and 2016.

Romance scams can start on dating sites, Facebook, chat rooms, and other sites and eventually can trick you into sending an imposter money.

“These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love,” said Carol Kando-Pineda. “Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money.”

The FTC warns that scammers are stealing service members’ photos to create phony profiles.

“They might claim to be service members who can’t get into their accounts overseas or who need money fast,” said Kando-Pineda. “The first sign of a scam is an online love interest who asks for money. But the Army’s Criminal Investigative Service (CIS) says that the military doesn’t charge service members to go on leave, get married, communicate with their family, go online, or feed and house themselves on deployment”

The FTC recommends researching your love interest’s name, photo and other information.

If an online love interest asks you for money:

  • Slow down and talk to someone you trust. These scammers want to rush you, often professing love right away; or pressuring you to move your conversation off the dating site.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift card or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report your experience to the dating site and to the FTC.

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