Valentine's Day approaches so beware of the romance scam

(EndPlay Staff Reports) - Don't look for love in all the wrong places.

That's the warning being given around Valentine's Day, a holiday that scam artists use to find new prey.

Among these attempts is the romance scam, the Los Angeles Times warned. Criminals pretend to be potential lovers through social media or dating websites. Their idea of candy is their victim's cash, as they ask for money so they can travel to meet their beloved. The catch is they get the cash and they're long gone.

"Experts (and common sense) suggest not sending money to anyone you don't know, even if they tell you they really, really, really love you and this could be the real thing," the Consumerist blog stated.

The State Department cautions the scam includes people overseas who claim to offer friendship, romance or marriage intentions over the Internet. They ask for help such as money or credit card information for expenses including "visa costs." There's other claims such as a sick family member. Some victims have lost thousands by falling prey to these scams.

Signs include getting a photo of a very attractive person that appears to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or studio. There's also stories of incredibly bad luck, or claims of being native-born American even though their grammar isn't that of a native English speaker.

It happens here in the United States as well. The FBI offers a similar warning saying women most often are victimized by these scams. The financial loss per victim averages between $15,000 and $20,000.

People are urged to be cautious if their supposed potential lover is suddenly begging for cash.

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