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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2022 > Beware of Romance Scams This Valentine’s Day

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Beware of Romance Scams This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and for many the day serves as a reminder that they are single. That, in turn, can provide motivation for some people to seek out that special someone – and con artists know it.
It’s important to protect your heart and your hard-earned money by watching out for online romance – or “sweetheart” – scams to protect your heart and your hard-earned money.
Romance scams typically originate with a phony profile on a dating website or social media as way of attracting unsuspecting victims.
Many con artists claim to be in another state or country, pretending to be a military member stationed overseas or a businessperson working in another country. They might even send fake photos or documentation to “prove” their identity.
Scammers might spend many hours communicating with a victim before asking for money. Or they might request money for airfare to visit, pay a hospital bill, get out of a foreign country or access an inheritance that the scammers promise to share with their victims.
Victims generally are asked to send money using a gift card, wire-transfer service, money order, prepaid card or other hard-to-trace payment method. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.
In 2021, 41 Ohioans reported to the Attorney General’s Office sweetheart scam losses totaling almost $1.7 million.
In one instance, a Ravenna man sent upward of $300,000 to a woman he met on the internet over the course of seven years via Western Union transfer, MoneyGram, cash in the mail, gift cards, and Bitcoin. She has asked him for money for a new car, plane tickets and new homes.
In another romance scam, a Franklin County woman was scammed out of $5,000. The initial contact was made through an online Scrabble game with a social component. The criminals asked her to buy gift cards from Google Play, Apple, eBay and other companies.
Victims of such scams fit no pattern; they may be male or female, young or old. The common denominator is that they believe in love and believe the romance is legitimate.  

Here are some ways to avoid sweetheart scams:
  • Research someone you meet online; do not rely solely on what that person tells you. Conduct internet searches, including reverse image searches, and check with independent sources to verify the person’s claims.
  • Be cautious of love bombing. Love bombing is a manipulation tactic done by showering a new love interest with affection and/or compliments. Be cautious of individuals who claim that destiny or fate brought you together or claim to love you after a short time.
  • Be especially wary if you have just lost a loved one; many times, scammers scour through obituaries to find people who have recently suffered a loss.
  • Talk to friends and family members about any online relationships, even if the other person asks you to keep the relationship a secret.
  • Don’t send money to someone you have met only online, even if you have developed a relationship with the individual.
  • Be very skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer, Bitcoin, peer-to-peer payment systems, money order, prepaid money cards or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practive should contact the Attorney General's Office at or 800-282-0515.