TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Office of Financial Regulation is warning everyone to be on alert for "romance" scams, which involve con artists posing as love interests online.
The con artist gains the victim's trust -- then comes the plea to send money.
Officials said romance scams can happen on social media networks and websites dedicated to romantic connections.
"Common claims by scammers, posing as online love interests, are that they would like to meet in person but cannot afford to, that they are living in another country or even that they are responsible for a sick relative," the Florida Office of Financial Regulation said. "These false claims will usually lead to a request for money. If the person has a list of reasons why they cannot meet in person, especially any excuse relating to money, it may be a scam."
The Office of Financial Regulation offered some tips to help protect yourself from becoming a victim:
- Remain wary of online friends who ask for money or for information about your financial situation, especially unsolicited friends.
- Think twice before you post something on social media. Consider if the information could be used to help scam you.
- Don't give out location information or personally identifying information to anyone online.
- Beware of anyone who "comes on strong," is aggressive or quickly asks you to move your relationship offline.
- Be extremely cautious of any investment opportunity or business venture pitched through social media or online dating platforms. Do your homework on any opportunity before committing and make sure that the business or individual is properly licensed.
Anyone who is a victim of a romance scam is asked to file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Anyone who feels they may be a victim of investment fraud or who wants to report suspicious activity can file a complaint with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation online or call 850-487-9687.