CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/WANE) – People can fall for a scheme very easily on Valentine’s Day, whether you are buying someone a gift or looking for a new date.
This Valentine’s Day, which falls on Tuesday, is going to be big, according to projections by the National Retail Federation, which says that consumer spending will reach nearly $26 billion, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
“Valentine’s Day is here, romance is in the air, but everyone needs to be aware,” Rick Walz, president and CEO for BBB Serving Northern Indiana.
Walz recommends people do their research as they prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and there are a few common schemes people need to be aware of. Whether you’re hoping for a new relationship or buying gifts for loved ones, beware of these schemes that are regularly reported to BBB:
Consumers should always be on the alert for impostor websites because schemers can easily copy official photos, sale promotions, and logos directly from the website of a popular jewelry brand. Those real visual elements can make a scammer’s website look like the real deal.
Other methods include fake online dating platforms crafted to steal personal data and credit card information. Some red flags to look out for are: products available at extreme discounts, a seller request that customers pay with cash transfer apps or cryptocurrency and unreachable customer service representatives.
Walz said the BBB has seen new reports of imposter websites this year.
Some of the people most vulnerable to a romance scam are those who have recently suffered a breakup or some other hardship, according to the BBB. Schemers leverage that pain to establish a connection and to gain sympathy. Once they’ve created a bond with their victim, they begin pursuing the true goal, money.
A romance scam can be particularly devastating because victims not only lose thousands of dollars, but they are once again crushed emotionally. Some red flags are: the relationship moves very fast, you never actually meet the person and they ask for money.
Wrong number scam
It might even seem like the responsible thing to do when a strange text message pops up on your phone, but responding to say the other person has the wrong number might be just what a crook on the other side of the conversation is hoping for. Text messages could be the bait to lure you into a conversation. If you keep chatting with this person, they eventually try to get your personal information by directing you to sign up for an adult site, for example, the BBB says.
Red flags to look out for with this scam are: the messages don’t stop, the sender directs you to sign up for a website and they try to get your personal information.
Fake florist scam
The BBB has received several reports of shoppers who thought they were ordering flowers from an online florist, but either got nothing at all or a disappointing arrangement.
If you’re running late ordering that bouquet this year, don’t let panic lead you to overlook warning signs from a potentially sketchy “florist.”
Some other red flags to look out for are: the business has no or bad reviews, there’s no return policy, there’s no satisfaction guarantee and the deal is “too good to be true.”
If you encounter a Valentine’s Day scheme, cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number. Then, report your experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Dating site users should also report suspicious activity to the platform, so they can take action against the schemer account.