BBB Scam Alert: Romance scam tricks victims into laundering money

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 8:13 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning people that if you use a dating app this Valentine’s Day, be careful to watch for scammers who only love your money.

Scammers are using people to funnel stolen money out of the country. Victims of these scams are tricked into illegal activity and can be prosecuted.

How it works:

You join a dating app and start messaging someone. You talk for a while, until they suggest you start texting or emailing instead of talking through the dating app. If you do this, you may notice they delete their dating profile.

The person may have some unusual requests, like that they want you to receive money for them and wire it overseas. They may claim it is for good reason. If you refuse their request, they may get hostile, threaten you or become distant.

Most likely, the money they want you to receive is actually stolen. After stealing money, scammers send the money through the US or Canada to make it harder for authorities to trace. Money laundering and wire fraud are illegal, and even though the victim is still a victim, they may face prosecution for their involvement.

Protect yourself:

  • Do your research. Many scammers use photos from the Internet in their dating profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere. You can also search their profile name, email or phone number. Scammers often pose as men and target women in their 50s and 60s.
  • Ask specific questions about details in their dating profile. A scammer may stumble over details or making a story fit.
  • Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you’ve never met in person. Cut off contact with anyone who asks you for financial or personally identifiable information, like your credit card number or social security number.
  • Be suspicious of requests to wire money or use a pre-paid debit card. Scammers send payments this way because once the money is gone, it can’t be recovered.

If you become a victim of a scam, report it here. Reporting scams can help others stay alert and avoid similar scams.

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