The old saying is “love is blind.” While this may be a sweet saying, love does not have to be blind.  This February, we want you to learn to protect yourself and your loved ones from Sweetheart Scams.


What is a Sweetheart Scam? A Sweetheart Scam is a long-con. It is perpetrated by a criminal who works to convince the victim over a period of time that he or she is in love. The scammer’s ultimate motivation may be one of several reasons such as money, physical harm or identity theft. A Sweetheart Scam can happen to anyone, at any time, but criminals specifically target the young and inexperienced or isolated seniors.


While these crimes can occur at almost any point in the year, during the month of February, specifically with Valentine’s Day, they tend to be more prevalent. It may seem foolish to give someone large quantities of money, but many people do irrational things when they believe they are in love.  Let us share a few ways you can protect yourself and loved ones from Sweetheart Scams.


1. Keep your wits about you.


Remain on guard in situations that may seem superficial or too good to be true. Ask yourself questions such as: Is this relationship moving too fast?  Is my new partner extremely fascinated with money? Have we spent enough time getting to know each other? How well do I really know this person?


2. Never transfer money to someone.


While this may seem like simple advice, people still continue to do this. If you have never met the person you are communicating with in person, do not send money. Do not share your identity. Be careful in your release of private details. Especially if your new “sweetheart” lives overseas, do not send money. Even if this person may be your soulmate, request to meet in person before wiring money. Additionally, make sure a trusted individual accompanies you to your first meeting.


3. Get a background check.


Doing a little research and getting a professional background check on your online relationship partner is not invasive. It is a careful move, especially if you are asked for money or other private information. Protect yourself first. There is no harm in getting more details on someone who wants money from you.


4. Be cautious of what you put on social media.


Scammers use social media pages to tailor their scams. This can be part of a broader social engineering scam.  If you document your worries, sorrows, and loneliness on your social media pages, other people can see it. Criminals may use it to take advantage of you. Keep you profiles on private and be mindful when you share personal information.