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Ohio Attorney General’s Office warns of ‘romance’ scams on Facebook, dating sites

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is warning residents to be on alert for “romance” scams in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.

These scams involve a con artist creating a fake profile, and contacting the victim on Facebook or an online dating site.

“Scam artists will pretend to be someone they’re not,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in a news release on Thursday. “They’ll start to communicate with a person online, and they’ll forge an emotional connection. At some point, they’ll start asking for money.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office received about 60 complaints for “romance” or “sweetheart” scams in 2016. Victims reported an average loss of $21,000. Other people said they spent as much as $100,000 over the course of years.

DeWine’s office said these scammers often claim to be soldiers, oil rig workers or heirs to large inheritance, and send photos to prove their identity. According to the attorney general, the con artists will ask for wire transfers or money orders.

To avoid “romance” scams:
• Research someone you meet online; don’t rely solely on what that person tells you. Conduct internet searches and check with independent sources to verify the person’s claims.
• Be careful about accepting friend requests on Facebook or other sites, even if you think you know the person making the request. Some scam artists create phony online profiles to trick potential victims.
• Be cautious of individuals who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together or who claim to love you soon after you meet online.
• Talk to friends and family members about any online relationships, even if the other person asks you to keep the relationship a secret.
• Don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online, even if you have developed a close online relationship with the individual.
• Be very skeptical of requests for wire transfers, money orders, prepaid money cards, or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.

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