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How To Detect and Avoid Online Romance Scams
Online dating and social media have become popular ways to find love and friendship. But unfortunately they have also become popular for fraudsters to create phony IDs, forge fake relationships with unwitting partners, and eventually extort money from them, before disappearing with your hard-earned savings.
The First Tech fraud team offers the following advice on how to detect and avoid online romance scams.
Too Good To Be True?
Do not accept funds from someone you met online, especially if you have never met them in person. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Fraudsters will often impersonate others or create fake social media profiles to gain your trust. They will offer to email you fraudulent check images, mail you fraudulent checks, ask access for your OLB credentials, or even direct deposit funds into your account that do not belong to you (stolen from another account holder).
Once you receive the fraudulent funds, you will soon be asked to send a portion back to them or to another individual. Fraudsters fake emergencies in order for you to comply in sending a portion of the funds ASAP. DO NOT PROCEED.
If funds are spent before an item has a chance to be verified by your Financial Institution, then you may be held financially responsible*.
Look For Red Flags
Here are some red flags when reviewing suspicious deposits:
- Fraudelent Checks:
- Fraudulent checks will often be generated that same day they are sent to you (unless they are mailed).
- The remitter (who the check is coming from) does not align with whom you have been speaking to online.
- The font on these checks will often look altered by a computer, or have a font like Comic Sans.
- If the individual asks for your OLB credentials to make the deposit for you, this is a scam.
- The check being mailed is often sent over-night with no sender address (or this address does not align with whom you have been speaking to)
- OLB Credential Sharing
- If someone asks you for your OLB credentials in order to facilitate a deposit for you DO NOT PROCEED. This is always a scam. No one should have access to your OLB credentials except you. If you share your OLB credentials, you open the door for a person to do anything to your accounts, which can include a fraudster stealing your or another person’s money at another financial institution.
- ACH/Direct Deposits
- If a person asks you for your routing or account number to send you a deposit, this could be a scam. Fraudsters can route stolen funds from other people’s bank accounts and government agencies (like unemployment benefits). Always pay attention to the description of the incoming deposit. Oftentimes you can Google search the description from the ACH deposit to learn more about where it is coming from.
- Wire Transfers
- If a person asks to send you a wire transfer, this could be a scam. If you receive a wire transfer look at the description of who it is coming from. Is the wire transfer coming from a person you have been speaking with? Or is there another name attached to this wire transfer? Oftentimes fraudsters will scam or takeover other peoples bank accounts in order to facilitate the transfer.
*Just because the funds are made available does not mean they are valid, deposits can still be found fraudulent leaving the account holder at a loss.
By following this advice we hope that you too can stay safe online. You can learn more by visiting www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.