Officials warn of sweetheart scams as Valentine’s Day approaches

Valentine's Day Red Roses
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Kentucky Attorney General is sending out a warning after residents lost more than $80,000 this time last year to sweetheart scams.

“That is when someone primarily using social media creates a fake profile and tries to build a relationship online. It picks up around Valentines Day, because there are Valentine’s Days when we all could be a little lonely,” said Attorney General Andy Beshear.

Over time, the scammer works to develop a long-distance sham relationship with the victim.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Brandi Zaccardi, the vice president of the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee, shared one Tennessee woman’s story with News 2.

She fell victim to a predator she met on a Christian dating site.

“He really played the part of a sincere Christian, even calling me to pray with me over the phone before bedtime,” explained the woman in a letter she wrote to the BBB.

According the BBB’s Scam Tracker, romance or sweetheart scams have equaled more than $500,000 in lost money from people over the last year.

“There is always an excuse not to meet in person, the scammer will always come up with ways to get that victim to wire money. Usually in a difficult to trace manner,” said Zaccardi.

Beshear said identifying these red flags could help stop a sweetheart scam. Watch for someone who:

  • Claims very quickly that they are in love
  • Refuses to meet in person
  • Asks to leave the protections of a legitimate dating or social media site and communicate via email, text or instant messenger
  • Demands the relationship be a secret
  • Provides information that cannot be verified through an independent online search or through trustworthy sources
  • Demands money or gift cards sent overseas
  • Solicits sensitive personal or financial information

To report a scam, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 502-696-5300 and fill out an online complaint form.