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Attorney General DeWine Warns Consumers to Avoid Online Romance Scams


(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—As Sweetest Day approaches on October 18, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is reminding Ohioans to beware of romance scams, often called “sweetheart scams,” and to protect themselves online.

In the past 12 months, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section has received more than 40 complaints involving sweetheart scams. The average reported loss is more than $26,000.

“Scam artists are very good at what they do,” Attorney General DeWine said. “They will spend time developing relationships with their victims. At some point, they will start asking for money, and victims will think they are helping someone they care about. The people who fall for this are not stupid. They just get caught up emotionally and financially.”

A typical sweetheart scam begins when a con artist meets a potential victim online through a dating or social networking website, or through email, instant message, or phone. The scammer eventually asks the individual to send money to help cover some type of cost, such as airfare to visit, medical expenses, or fees associated with military leave. The scammer often asks the victim to send the money via wire transfer. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.

In several complaints, victims say they sent money to African countries, such as Nigeria. This year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office also heard from at least two consumers who had paid tens of thousands of dollars to scammers located in Malaysia, met through dating websites.  The U.S. Embassy in Malaysia has placed a warning on its website urging consumers to be cautious of scams originating in Malaysia.

Attorney General DeWine offers consumers the following tips to protect themselves:

  • Research someone you meet online; don’t rely on what that person tells you. Perform Internet searches and consider getting a background check.
  • Be cautious of individuals who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together. 
  • Talk to friends and family members about online relationships. 
  • Don’t send money to someone you meet online, even if you have developed a relationship. 
  • Be very skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer or prepaid money cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.

Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or


Media Contacts

Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Kate Hanson: 614-466-3840

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