DALLAS — While Valentine's Day is a holiday many couples cherish, it is also a time online scammers will try to take people's money.
The Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas analyzed the past five years of financial scams reports it received. During that period, 100 Texans reported being the victim of a romance scam, with more than half of them -- 54 -- losing money.
On average, each victim was out $22,842.
Scammers usually use wire transferring as a payment method. Prepaid gift cards, cryptocurrency and online payments were also used. Scammers use these methods because they are very difficult to trace, and in most cases, victims never get their money back, the BBB says.
Among the 100 Texas victims, men between 25 and 34 years old and women between 35 and 64 were most likely to report a romance scam. Women filed 54% of the reports, men filed 40% and 6% declined to report their gender.
The analysis also revealed most scammers targeted victims online using dating apps, social media accounts or instant message. Better Business Bureau received more than 4,500 reports of Texas consumers interacting with a scammer online in the past five years.
The Better Business Bureau says provides these tips for protecting yourself from romantic scammers:
- Never send money to strangers. Don't send money to someone you haven't met in person and use caution with people you meet online. Scammers will work to seem like a worthy romantic partner or trustworthy person, but don't send money.
- Share carefully on social media. Be sure to check your privacy settings on all social media accounts, as impostors often use those accounts to get information about targets.
- Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers can easily create seals, photos and documents that look official. Don’t assume a dating or social media profile is real just because it appears to be.
- Watch out for “red flags.” One common warning sign of a romance scam is someone who initiates conversation but isn't willing to meet in person. They may have legitimate sounding excuses but are likely attempting to conceal their identity. Also be cautious of someone who is quick to declare their love.
More about how to protect yourself from scams: https://www.bbb.org/scamtips.
Report a scam to BBB: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/.