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Avoid ‘catfish’ scams this Valentine’s Day

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CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) — Online dating and social media make it even easier to be scammed — especially on Valentine’s Day.

“Last year, the FTC actually reported consumers lost over $2 million to romance scams alone,” said Luke Frey, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Communications. And that number is 40% up from 2018.

The BBB offered tips on how to stay clear of naming a “catfish” your valentine this year.

The scam stems from fake profiles that steal pictures and text from real accounts. The scammer builds a fake relationship and, according to BBB, they always end up wanting money.

“They’re held up at the border or they have an emergency and are in the hospital,” Frey said, explaining some common excuses scammers use. “Something happens where they need money immediately.”

RELATED: Widower, 80, loses $200K in romance scam

A good rule is to never send money or personal information to someone you haven’t met in person no matter how convincing or genuine they seem.

Here’s how to spot the scams.

Scammers flood their profiles with good-looking photos and success stories. If they seem “too perfect,” take caution.

Catfish are often quick to get off the dating site and get into another form of communication such as email, text or phone calls.

They talk about trust to try to gain it. They talk about a future and the importance of trust. This is what leads to a request for money.

RELATED: Love don’t cost a thing: Valentine’s Day romance scams

Catfish also will avoid meeting in person for fear of being revealed, BBB said.

Detect their language. Check their spelling and grammar. BBB said most catfish are from overseas and have poor English.

Be smart when deciding who to give that valentine to this year, and never send personal information online.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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