FBI Warns Against Valentine's Day Scams on Dating Sites

The FBI warns that the people contacting you online this Valentine’s Day may be only after your money.

Looking for love online this Valentine's Day? A warning released Friday by the FBI suggests scammers lurking as potential matches on dating websites might only be after your money. In some cases, the warning says, victims are blackmailed as "cheaters."

"Here’s how the scam usually works," federal investigators said in a statement. "You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is e-mailed to you."

The person seeks to form a bond with you, according to the FBI warning, quickly expressing feelings of romantic love and spending weeks or even months luring people in. They reveal hardships that only you can fix, and although they send gifts or flowers at first, they ultimately ask for favors or gifts of money.

"You were targeted by criminals," investigators say, "probably based on personal information you uploaded on dating or social media sites. The pictures you were sent were most likely phony lifted from other websites. The profiles were fake as well, carefully crafted to match your interests."

The most common victims to these laundering and extortion schemes are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed or disabled, though everyone should be on the lookout for potential scams.

If you use online dating sites and social media, the FBI says you should be wary of people claiming to be from America but say they are working abroad.

In addition to asking for money, the FBI also warns about people asking you to cash checks for them, or someone who asks you to forward a package. The checks could be for money laundering, and the packages could be stolen property.

In another reported extortion scam, victims were lured from a social media website to another website where the conversation turned intimate.

The victims later were sent links where their conversation, images and phone number were posted, claiming they are "cheaters." The scammers would then ask for payment for the removal of their information, but there is no evidence the information was ever taken down.

The FBI advises people to only use dating websites that are nationally recognized, and not to send money through any wire transfer to someone you met online.

People who think they have been victimized by a dating scam can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Contact Us