CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — People can fall for a scheme very easily on Valentine’s Day, whether you are buying someone a gift or if you are looking for a new date.
This Valentine’s Day next Tuesday is going to be big, according to projections by the National Retail Federation, which says that consumer spending will reach nearly $26 billion, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
As you prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are a few common schemes that you need to be aware of. Whether you’re hoping for a new relationship or buying gifts for loved ones, beware of these schemes that are regularly reported to BBB:
Consumers should always be on the alert for impostor websites because schemers can easily lift official photos, sale promotions, and logos directly from the website of a popular jewelry brand. With professional graphics and low prices, schemers build a website that looks very similar to the real thing.
Other methods might be used to build fake online dating platforms, which are used to steal personal data and credit card information. Some red flags to look out for are products that are available at extreme discounts, the seller requests customers pay with cash transfer apps or cryptocurrency, and that customer service is unreachable.
Romance schemers often target people that have experienced a recent breakup or other hardship. They take advantage of that breakup to establish a connection and to gain sympathy. Once they’ve gotten their victim, they begin pursuing their true goal–money.
Falling victim to this scheme can be particularly devastating because victims can lose thousands of dollars, and they’re often left feeling heartbroken and betrayed because they really believed they’d found a partner. Some red flags are that the relationship moves very fast, you never actually meet the person, and they ask for money.
Wrong number scam
Responding to a text message from someone who texted the wrong number might seem harmless, but it might even seem like the polite thing to do if they say they’re looking to reconnect with a potential match. Text messages could be the bait to lure you into a conversation. If you keep chatting with this person, they eventually try to get your personal information by directing you to sign up for an adult site.
Red flags to look out for with this scam are that the messages don’t stop, the sender directs you to sign up for a website, and they try to get your personal information.
Fake florist scam
If you are ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day, don’t procrastinate or you may end up falling for a scheme. BBB has received several reports of shoppers who thought they were ordering flowers from an online florist, but either got nothing at all or a disappointing arrangement.
Some other red flags to look out for are that the business has no or bad reviews, you can’t find a return policy or satisfaction guarantee, and the deal is “too good to be true.”
If you encounter a romance scheme, cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number. Then, report your experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Dating site users should also report suspicious activity to the platform, so they can take action against the schemer account.