BBB issues warning to avoid online-dating scams

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Protect hearts and wallets by avoiding online-dating romance scams.

The Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is warning consumers to be on the lookout for scammers who impersonate U.S. service members and computer-generated scam bots.

Online-dating users can be an easy target for scammers as millions are signing onto online dating sites and mobile apps such as Bumble and Tinder.

Guard the heart from these common romance scams:

  • Soldier Impersonators:Victims claim they are “in a relationship” with a service member, but some individuals are playing with victims’ emotions to try and hustle them for money.

Last year a woman reported to the BBB that she lost an estimated $5,000 on what she thought was transportation and medical fees for a man who said he was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.

  • Tinder Scam Bots:These computer-generated Tinder matches are often scripted bots that target users and attempt to pressure them into sending money or getting them to install malware affiliate marketing programs on their computers.

“Swipe left” or ignore individuals who show these online-dating scam signs:

  • Avoid sending money.Be wary when soldiers or others who are out of the country ask for money to pay for transportation costs, communication fees, marriage processing or medical fees. Beware of visiting any links they send, downloading anything or giving them bank account or other personal information.
  • Communication is key.It’s a big red flag if they refuse to communicate on the phone or in person. Servicemen and women serving in a combat zone overseas often have an APO and FPO mailing address.
  • Don’t move too fast. Be wary of saying “I love you” in the beginning of the relationship. When emotions are involved, victims will feel obligated to send money to keep communications open.
  • Don’t fall for automatic messaging. When a user messages instantly and types at a fast pace with generic responses, this is most likely a computer-generated scam bot.
  • Steer clear of those who look too good to be true. Avoid users who have a few pictures on their profiles, look like a famous person or have no Facebook friends or interests in common.

Individuals that have fallen victim to these or other scams are encouraged to report their experience to Better Business Bureau at 509-455-4200 or at bbb.org/scamtracker.