It’s been said that love is blind. But when it comes to love and money, seeing clearly is your best course of action.
Do a quick internet search of ‘romance scams,’ and you’ll find page after page after page of results. The fact is, it happens every day to people from all walks of life. And it could be happening to someone you know and love.
If you’re beginning to date again, you may be wondering what a ‘romance scam’ is. Quite simply, it’s when a criminal fakes a romantic interest in someone to gain their trust and affection. The criminal then preys on that goodwill, convincing unsuspecting victims to transfer or wire money to the criminal’s account. Most often this type of scam involves online dating or occasionally, a connection made through other social apps such as Facebook.
A TTCU member recently contacted Member Relations requesting a transfer of $50,000 to an overseas account. Our employee was suspicious of the transaction and questioned our member about the validity of the transfer. The member swore it was for a family investment and everything was on the up and up. The transfer was made. The next morning our member contacted TTCU in a panic. She wanted the transfer reversed because she realized she had been conned. Unfortunately, it was too late and our member lost $50,000; a good portion of her savings.
And before you think it can’t happen to you, think again. Years ago when I was single, I connected with a man through a dating site. We exchanged a series of emails and seemed to hit it off. He was traveling on business and we planned to meet in person when he returned home. Then, as luck would have it, he lost his wallet and needed money to get home. He asked if I could lend him the money. Fortunately, I was suspicious enough (and had enough knowledge of the banking industry) to recognize what was happening. After I told him I wouldn’t be sending him any money, I never heard from him again.
So what can you do to protect yourself or a loved one? Here are a few simple tips:
- First and foremost – never, ever, ever, ever transfer money to someone you’ve never met in real life. A wire transfer takes place almost immediately and cannot be reversed. Once the money is sent, it’s gone forever.
- Do not share your banking information with anyone. This includes your account number, your user ID, your passwords or any other type of financial information.
- Stay up-to-date on current scams. Get notified as new scams are reported by registering at consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
Meeting someone you connect with is fantastic and fun and exciting! And by all means, get out there and mingle! Just make sure you protect yourself. And remember, TTCU is here to help in any way we can.