RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- If you're looking for love this Valentine's Day you need to watch out for scammers who continue to prey on those online looking for a connection.
If you think people don't fall for romance scams, think again as the latest numbers show more than $1 billion in losses just in 2022, according to Comparitech. The company says nearly 73,000 Americans lost money to romance scams last year.
These scams typically start on social media or dating apps. "It's pretty easy to make an account with a photo that is fake or a photo that isn't actually theirs. They can make up information about themselves. They can take photos from other people's social media accounts," said Meredith Radford with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina. Radford explains how this is known as catfishing when a scammer pretends to be someone else. "They might not ask you for money right away, it might even be months to ask you for money they are really taking that time to groom you and for you to trust them," she adds.
Once they have your trust, they ask for either money or gift cards to help them in an emergency or they need money to come to see you. The red flags to watch out for are when they appear to be too good to be true, like very successful or financially established but still need your money. Another red flag is if they give you a hard luck story that pulls at your heartstrings. Also, look for spelling and grammatical errors. Plus if claim they want to meet you, but then continue to always postpone meeting you, that's also a red flag.
The FBI says a new twist to romance scams involves persuading victims to send money to invest or trade in cryptocurrency. A Raleigh victim tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson he lost $225,000 this way after meeting someone on a dating app. By the time he realized this was a scam, his money was long gone. Remember love should not cost you a thing.