Romance Scammers Prey on Lonely Hearts

The holidays are prime time for online scam artists to strike.

by Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

The most wonderful time of the year can also be a lonely time of year, and there are plenty of grinches out there ready to take advantage of the holiday blues.

Reuters reports that romance scams—in which bogus online relationships are forged to earn trust and, ultimately, money—are growing, with a 30 percent rise in registered complaints last month.

“It’s a huge problem, and we’ll never know how big it is,” Barb Sluppick, who runs Romancescams.org, tells the news service. “It happens to men, it happens to women. If you are on the Internet, and you have an e-mail address, and you are open to having a relationship with someone, you can become a victim of this.”

The experts’ advice, according to Reuters: Never send or wire money to someone you haven’t met, be suspicious of fast-moving online relationships, and just look for red flags.

If something is weird, report it. Maybe you’ll save someone else the heartache.

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First Published December 22, 2011

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