Romance scam tricks victims into money laundering

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning people that if you’re using a dating app this Valentine’s Day, beware of scammers who only love your money.

Scammers use people to smuggle stolen money out of the country. Victims of these scams are drawn into illegal activities and can be prosecuted.

How it works:

You join a dating app and start messaging someone. You talk for a while, until they suggest you start texting or emailing instead of talking through the dating app. If you do this, you might notice that they delete their dating profile.

The person may have unusual requests, such as that they want you to receive money for them and transfer it overseas. They can claim it’s for a good reason. If you deny their request, they may become hostile, threatening, or distant.

Most likely, the money they want you to receive is actually stolen. After stealing the money, the scammers send the money via the United States or Canada to make it harder for the authorities to find them. Money laundering and wire fraud are illegal, and even if the victim is still a victim, they can be prosecuted for their involvement.

Protect yourself:

  • Do your research. Many scammers use photos from the internet in their dating profiles. You can perform a reverse image search to see if a profile’s photos have been stolen from somewhere. You can also search for their profile name, email address or phone number. Scammers often pose as men and target women in their 50s and 60s.
  • Ask specific questions about the details of their dating profile. A scammer can stumble over details or make a story match.
  • Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you have never met in person. Cut off all contact with anyone who asks you for financial or personally identifiable information, such as your credit card number or social security number.
  • Beware of requests to transfer money or use a prepaid debit card. Scammers send payments this way because once the money is gone, it cannot be recovered.

If you are the victim of a scam, report it here. Reporting scams can help others stay alert and avoid similar scams.

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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