West Virginia Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging consumers to exercise caution when using dating services via websites or social media, especially with Valentine’s Day approaching.
Scammers will feign interest in or profess strong feelings toward an unsuspecting individual with the ulterior motive of eventually receiving money from them. Scammers may say they need money to cover expenses accrued while trying to meet their supposed interest, to get into the U.S. or to help them or a family member out of a bind.
In reality, they end up simply pocketing the money.
“Because of advanced technology, there are many new ways to meet people,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It is important to make sure the person you’re attempting to meet is legitimate and not trying to scam you.”
Consumers can do a few things to ensure they don’t end up a victim:
- Do your own background research on the person, especially if contact starts through an unsolicited private message on social media.
- Run a reverse image search on profile pictures, using search engines like Google and Bing, or services such as TinEye or SauceNAO.
- Never wire money to someone without verifying the authenticity of the person or the reason for sending the money.
- Never send money via cash or gift cards because funds cannot be recovered. If you send funds through wire transfer, you may not be able to recoup the funds unless the transfer is canceled before pick-up.
- Be wary of someone who always makes excuses or “has something come up” whenever plans are made to meet in person after they have received money.
- Take note if you are made to feel isolated or cut off from family and friends. This is a red flag.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of an online dating scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.ago.wv.gov.