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Romance scams up 50 percent in Arizona

What the FBI says you should do to stay safe
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Posted at 6:23 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 08:23:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It’s an old scam that’s getting a new life, the FBI recently released new details about romance scams also known as confidence fraud.

Scammers gain your trust with a fake online profile, try to build a relationship and steal from the victim. Meanwhile the victim believes they’re in a close, committed and loving relationship. They also use social media and dating sites to prey on victims. FBI Special Agent Martin Hellmer says the online crime is on the rise.

"The criminals very quickly want to move communications with their intended victims off of the dating sites or whatever sites they met on. They want to utilize text messages or phone or come communications platform that's not on the site,” Hellmer said.

According to the FBI some of the scammers even propose to keep the lie going. As for red flags the victims never see the culprits and they always ask for money to cover a fake emergency. FBI data shows that 560 Arizonans lost more than 12 million dollars to romance scams in 2020. That’s up 50 percent from what they saw in 2019.

"They claim they’re in the military or they work in the building, construction or mining industries, Hellmer said.

Investigators say the best way to stay safe is to do web research on the person you’re communicating with online.

Never send money or share financial information for bank transfers or loans. If you do plan to meet in person, be sure to do it in a public place. Investigators say it’s always best to take things slowly and ask as many questions as possible to keep both your heart and your wallet safe. If you believe that you have been a victim of a romance scam call the FBI at 623-466-1999.

“In 2020 nationally about 24,000 victims reported being victims of romance frauds and lost over 600 million dollars,” Hellmer said.