CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges consumers to exercise caution when meeting a new love interest – especially online.
Scammers will feign interest in or profess strong feelings toward an unsuspecting individual with the ulterior motive of eventually taking money from them. Scammers may say they need money to cover expenses accrued while trying to meet their supposed interest, to get into the U.S. or to help them out of a bind.
In reality, the scammer simply pockets the money. Some consumers have been known to lose several thousand dollars to such a scam.
“February is another opportunity for scammers to take advantage of the vulnerable,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “You may be going on a website or you may get some information via social media about a potential new loved one, but it’s important to verify who the person is and be cautious.”
Consumers can do a few things to ensure they don’t end up a victim:
- Do background research on the person.
- Never wire money to someone without verifying the authenticity of the person or the reason for sending the money.
- Never send money via cash or gift cards because funds cannot be recovered. Funds sent through wire transfer may be lost unless the transfer is canceled before pickup.
- Be wary of someone who always makes excuses or “has something come up” whenever plans are made to meet in person after they have received money.
- Being instructed to not tell others about the match should be a red flag.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of an online dating scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.