Better Business Bureau warns of online romance scams

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It’s that time of year again when showing your love can cost a pretty penny, especially if you are not careful online.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average spending this year to play Cupid is about $175. Before you purchase anything, just make sure the person you’re showering with gifts is real.

"Typically the way romance scams work is someone will make contact with you online, you’re looking for love, they make a dating profile," said Victoria Carreon with the Better Business Bureau of New Mexico. "Sometimes they use fake pictures and fake text from a real dating profile to try to connect with you."

Carreon says these romance scams have exploded throughout the pandemic. Scammers are taking advantage of people’s isolation and using their "newfound love connection" to make some cash.

"One of the important things to keep in mind about romance scams is, the older you are the more likely you are to lose more money," Carreon stated.

According to Carreon, in 2020, the median amount of money lost was $1,200. In 2021, that doubled to $2,400.

Last month, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that a northern New Mexican man lost his life savings – nearly $200,000 – to a Ukrainian woman who didn’t exist.

"Keep a line of communication open with those people who you think might be a little more vulnerable," Carreon suggested.

Another red flag? The person wants to move the relationship along quickly and tells you not to tell your family and friends about them. Another red flag is when they don’t want to video chat with you or call you on the phone and – biggest of all – they start asking for money or personal bank information.