Online dating sites report a surge in activity in the days before Valentine’s Day, as singles use technology to find a match. Behind many dating profiles lurk scammers ready to dupe users into believing they have found love.

Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites created by stealing photos and text from real accounts or elsewhere.

Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can’t meet you in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship with you, exchanging photos and romantic messages, even talking on the phone or through a webcam.

Just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, your new sweetheart has a health issue or family emergency, or wants to plan a visit. No matter the story, the request is the same, they need money. But after you send money, there’s another request, and then another. Or the scammer stops communicating altogether.

SPOT THIS SCAM

• Too perfect to be true.

• In a hurry to get off the site. Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to communicating through email, messenger, or phone.

• Moving fast.

• Talk about trust.

• Don’t want to meet.

• Suspect language.

• Hard luck stories.

PROTECT YOURSELF

• Never send money or personal information.Never give someone your credit card information to book a ticket to visit you.

• Ask specific questions about details given in a profile.

• Do your research. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website like tineye.com or images.google.com to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else.

To report a scam, go to www.bbb.org/scamtracker.

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