How to avoid romance scams this Valentine’s Day

For many, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show and share love. For criminals, it’s a chance to take advantage of the vulnerable. Scammers will go to extreme lengths to take away your trust and money.

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“All they’re doing is stringing you along,” Detective Eduard Turso with the Orange County Sheriff’ Office said. “Then when they have you on the hook, they ask you for money.”

Detective Turso told us the scam can start out with love bombing, asking for money, claiming to live out of the area, or making plans with you and then cancelling.

Margarita Brito told us she almost fell victim to a romance scam but noticed those red flags.

Read: Criminals use artificial intelligence, imitate celebrities to trick people into handing over money

She isn’t alone.

Detective Turso said in Orange County, he’s helped victims as young as 35 years old who say they’ve fell victim to a romance scam.

“Oh, it is very common,” Detective Turso said. “These people are good. There are 6 of us detectives and in the last year, myself, I’ve probably had in the area of 13 romance scams assigned to me.”

While Valentine’s Day for most is a time spent with loved ones, it can also be a time of loneliness. Scammers count on that.

Read: Beware of new scam involving a Facebook video call

“It’s the holiday where love is celebrated,” Detective Turso said. “It’s the one where your friends are all going out with someone and you’re home alone and all of a sudden there’s a little bing. You look it up and there you go.

If you think you’ve been the target of a scam, reach out to your local sheriff’s office or police department and report it.

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