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Celebrating Valentine’s Day One Click at a Time

Thursday, February 9, 2023

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By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

In the course of our lives, we experience romance in a variety of different ways.

For some of us, there was a time where it began simply enough, with a folded note that we asked our best friend to pass over to someone while we were in class.

From there, it’s the relationships that begin as early as our teens and twenties. Or if we aren’t so lucky it takes a few frogs to find our prince. And, if we’re fortunate, it continues on, until we’re in the twilight of a life well-lived in the company of someone special who cared about us.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner many people (me included) start thinking about what we can do for our loved ones to offer a token of our love that day. In fact, it’s estimated that people will spend an average of $192.80 for Valentine’s Day -- when you add up the cost of what we’ll spend, not only for our husband, wife, or significant other, but our family, friends and even our pets! What’s more, consumers ages 35 to 44 are planning to spend even more -- an average of $335.71, the most of any age demographic.

Yet, in order to get to our storybook ending, it’s important for you to know that cybercriminals and scam artists are doing everything they can to steal away your life savings and your personal information while, at the same time, breaking your heart.

Here in Indiana, hundreds of Hoosiers fall victim to the scheme every year. From 2019 to 2021, romance scam complaints, nationally, have increased by 25 percent and the victims' losses totaled $1.3 billion in the past five years.

Many victims hesitate to report it because of embarrassment. Recently, a woman in Central Indiana, shared her story in the hope that it’ll help other people avoid being the victim of a romance scam.

In a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star, Herbert Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI’s Indianapolis office said it’s important to understand how a romance scam works and how you can protect yourself.

Additionally, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind, including:

  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

Most importantly, trust your instincts (and not just your heart…) and if you suspect that you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, be sure to file a complaint as soon as possible with the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3.  You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission at and it’s a good idea to notify the social networking site or app where you met the person.

And, hey, if it’s meant to be, you’ll be safe and secure and find the fairy tale together. Happy Valentine’s Day!