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Be Cautious of Online "Sweetheart" Scams
“This scam can be very costly both emotionally and financially,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Con artists can spend months developing relationships with their victims, but eventually they’ll make up some excuse why they need money. In these situations, if someone you’ve never met in person asks you to send money, it’s probably a scam.”
In a typical sweetheart scam, the con artist meets the victim online through a dating website or social networking site, communicating through email, instant message, or phone.
The scammer eventually asks the victim to send money to help cover some type of cost, such as airfare to visit the victim, medical expenses, or fees associated with military leave. The scammer often asks the victim to send the money via wire transfer. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.
Attorney General DeWine offers consumers the following tips to protect themselves:
- Research someone you meet online; don’t rely on what that person tells you. Perform Internet searches and consider getting a background check.
- Be cautious of individuals who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together.
- Talk to friends and family members about online relationships.
- Don’t send money to someone you meet online, even if you have developed a relationship.
- Be very skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer or prepaid money cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.
[Editor's Note: Read about an international "dating" scam checking agency and experiences by visiting: http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/051130-rutheford-dating.html ]
Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.