$1 billion lost in romance scams, Better Business Bureau says

Are you looking for love this Valentine's Day? Be on guard as the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina says the plethora of online dating sites and apps have made fraud even easier to commit. Victims in the US and Canada have reported losing nearly $1 billion over the last three years, and BBB estimates there may be more than a million victims in the U.S. alone.

Alyssa Gutierrez with the BBB explains how the scammer grooms the victim and takes time to build trust.

"Trying to relate personal stories and trying to use words like love and the best connection they've ever had." Once they have their victim's trust, the big red flag is when they ask for money. "This is where the scammers try to get money from the victim, and it can be anything from I need money to start a business, I need money to come to see you, or an emergency popped up," Gutierrez said.

Other red flags to watch out for is poor spelling or grammar also take the time and double check the pictures they send.

A simple google image search will show you if the image has been used elsewhere and if the scammer is who they claim to be or they just stole the photo from another site.

Lastly, if they can never meet in person because they claim to be overseas or in the military, be on guard.

The best advice is to never send money to someone you have not met, whether it be prepaid credit cards, access to your bank accounts, or cash.

For more information on romance scams and how to protect yourself click here.
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