• May 17, 2022
 FBI El Paso Office Warns of Romance Scams Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Photo/logo courtesy El Paso FBI

FBI El Paso Office Warns of Romance Scams Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Swipe left on potential romance scams. This Valentine’s Day, the FBI El Paso Field Office wants to educate the public about romance scams, so you can protect your heart— and your wallet—from scammers. 

In romance scams (also known as confidence scams), a criminal creates fake profiles on dating  sites or social media platforms to trick victims into believing they are in a trusting relationship— whether familial, friendly, or romantic—with the perpetrator. Fraudsters leverage these  relationships to manipulate and steal from victims—and break their hearts. 

“Romance scammers are liars and thieves, but they’re also master manipulators,” said Jeffrey R.  Downey, special agent in charge of the FBI El Paso Field Office. “Victims may feel  embarrassed, but it’s important to come forward and contact the FBI if you suspect your online  admirer is a scammer, so we can help bring them to justice before they break someone else’s  heart and bank account.” 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), romance scams have resulted in  one of the highest amounts of financial losses when compared to other online crimes. In 2021,  victim losses associated with those online romance scams totaled approximately 5.94 billion. The  State of Texas reported 1,753 complaints totaling over $745 million. Here in the FBI El Paso  Field Office, which includes El Paso, Midland/Odessa and Alpine, 79 complaints were filed with  financial losses totaling approximately $1.4 million. 

New Trend in Romance Scams: The FBI has seen a rising trend in which romance scammers  are persuading individuals to send money to invest or trade cryptocurrency. After gaining the  confidence and trust of the victim, the scammer then directs the victim to a fraudulent website or  application for an investment opportunity. After the victim has invested an initial amount on the  platform and sees an alleged profit, the scammers allow the victim to withdraw a small amount  of money. Eventually, the scammer instructs the victim to invest a more considerable amount.  When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammers create reasons why this cannot  happen. The victim is informed additional taxes or fees need to be paid, or the minimum account  balance has not been met to allow a withdrawal. Sometimes, a “customer service group” gets  involved, which is also part of the scam. Ultimately, victims cannot withdraw any money, and  the scammers most often stop communicating with the victim after they cease to send additional  funds.

Tips to Protect Yourself: 

Never send money, trade, or invest per the advice of someone you have solely met online. Do not disclose your current financial status to unknown and untrusted individuals. Do not provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your  

identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site  you do not know is legitimate. 

If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely  that—unbelievable. 

Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge  you to act fast. 

If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately and if you have  already sent money, it is extremely important to report any transfer of funds to your financial  institution and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by Clicking Here

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