San Diego

Tips to Avoid Online Romance Scams

A look at how scammers are using dating apps to steal money from unsuspecting victims looking for love

"Romance scams are real."

That's the word from Eva Velasquez with the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center.

"They are occuring on a regular basis and the scammers are using online platforms and apps in order to con people out of their money and prey on their emotions," said Velasquez.

According to ITRC research, most victims of these dating app scams are elderly users.

Here are a few tips to keep you from falling for a romance scam:

Beware when the person wants to quickly move from a recognized dating app and instead communicate with you directly through email or phone calls.

Scammers will NOT want to meet you face-to-face.

"The reality is with scammers, if you are suggesting meeting in real life, it's not going to happen," said Velasquez.

Scammers often claim they are working overseas or in the military.

Just as things appear to be heating up in an online relationship, scammers will ask for money. They will often say they need the money for a medical emergency or so they can visit you.

It is always smart to ask detailed questions about their profile. Scam artists will steal photos from other online sites and post them as themselves.

If you do agree to a date, always meet in a public place and let a friend or family member know your plans.

You best defense is time. Don't feel pressured into meeting someone or giving them money or personal information. Don't be rushed into making a decision you'll later regret.

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