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Why It’s Easy to Fall for the Sweetheart Scam

Falling in love is exhilarating. The world looks brighter when love blossoms. It’s easy to see the good in everything and everyone. And, that’s precisely what fraudsters running the Sweetheart Scam count on. Criminals perpetrate this scheme by convincing unsuspecting victims to open their hearts and their wallets before vanishing without a trace. Most don’t see it coming, but others look back and can recall the subtle signs that the relationship would not end well. Persuading victims to hand over financial information or cash after establishing a relationship is a common component of this scheme.

Here are six more reasons it’s easy to fall for the Sweetheart Scam:

  1. Fraudsters appear relatable by looking for unsuspecting victims in online spaces such as dating apps, social media, or special interest forums.
  2. Relationships that begin online allow the fraudster to control what is known about him or her.
  3. Scammers often present a fake, yet attractive, photo of themselves online.
  4. The relationship is full of promises, but no follow-through. An often unfulfilled promise is the one to personally visit the victim, but travel money is needed first.
  5. The thief will often create elaborate, heartfelt emergencies to explain their cash shortage.
  6. Criminals play on the feelings (e.g., guilt, love, or desire) of their victim to convince them to send money or provide personal financial information.As the relationship advances, more is asked financially of the victim.

In 2018, $143 million was lost to romance-related scams, and they appear to be on the rise. Online fraudsters attempt a variety of tactics to gain access to your money and personal data. Some use covert tactics while others use a more direct approach, as in the Sweetheart Scam. If you suspect you or someone you know might be a Sweetheart Scam victim, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Prince George’s Community Federal Credit Union is committed to helping members keep their financial information secure. Please join us for ID Protection Day this September.

When: Saturday, September 21st (9 am to noon or until trucks reach capacity)
Where: Largo Plaza Shopping Center (on rt. 214 facing Lowe’s and Target)
10500 Campus Way South, Largo, MD 20774

It’s estimated that nearly 60 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in just the last year alone. And, the numbers are rising. Join us for ID Protection Day to begin taking steps to help safeguard you and your family. Bring up to 3 boxes of your personal information, account statements, legal documents to be shredded for free. Plus, bring the kids for face painting and a free Fingerprinting kit!

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