OAKLAND — On Valentine’s Day, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert warning Californians to beware of romance scams. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust to manipulate or steal their finances or personal information. This usually occurs through various forms of communication including phone calls, text messages, social media and dating sites. Last year alone, romance scams cost nearly 70,000 consumers $1.3 billion. In today’s alert, Attorney General Bonta reminds Californians to exercise caution in their dealings with strangers online.
“All year round, bad actors use the holidays to try and extort Californians out of their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This Valentine’s Day, learn the signs and always ask for a second opinion to avoid falling victim to romance scams. The bottom line is — if a stranger online asks for money or personal information — it is most likely a scam. I urge you to report any and all romance scams you may encounter and contact your local authorities if you suspect being a victim of one.”
Learn the Warning Signs
You may likely be dealing with a scammer if:
- Your romantic interest sends you photos that look too perfect to be real.
- They profess their love to you quickly.
- They lavish you with texts, emails and phone calls to draw you in.
- They repeatedly promise to meet in person but never follow through.
- They make a sudden request for money to deal with an emergency or great investment. Scammers like to create a sense of urgency.
- Don’t send money to someone you haven’t met in person: This is a common request made by scammers.
- Don’t share personal information: Be careful about what personal information you share, such as your address or financial information.
- Talk to friends and family: If you’re not sure about someone, talk to your friends and family for a second opinion.
- Do your research: Use various search engines to look up a person’s photos and details to see if these have been used elsewhere.
- Be wary of any investment offers, particularly those involving cryptocurrency: Scammers often set up fake websites simulating actual cryptocurrency investment opportunities in order to entice unsuspecting investors.
- Check for inconsistencies: Watch for inconsistencies in a person’s story, such as changes in details or lack of information about their background.
- Use dating apps safely: Avoid moving a conversation to a private messaging platform unless you are certain of the recipient’s identity. Scammers want you to move to an app that doesn't identify them in real life.
- Trust your instincts: If something seems too good to be true, it most likely is.