Scammers prey on those seeking a valentine - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Scammers prey on those seeking a valentine

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It can be a rough time of year if you're left without a valentine.

"In the stores we're seeing flowers and teddy bears and I think people can become increasingly sad if they don't have a valentine and so their behaviors can change regarding the standards that they usually set for themselves," says The Village Family Service Center Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Karissa Schmoll.

So if you're using online dating sites to help you find "the one", beware of what's called "catfishing."

"Catfishing, basically, is when someone uses an online dating service or messaging service to pretend to be one thing and then really be another," says Minnesota and North Dakota Better Business Bureau Spokesperson Dan Hendrickson.

Experts say online dating is the perfect platform to remain anonymous and create an identity that you will confide in.

"These scammers, if their goal is to get you to give them money, they will tell you everything you want to hear," says Hendrickson. "They'll say all the right things; they'll pretend to be interested in the things you're interested in," he says.

Once they have your trust, they ask for cash.

"That's when they make that request for money and by then, they've built that trust and in many cases, they get that payment," says Hendrickson. 

Experts say to beware of those who want to chat online where there wouldn't be a record of the encounter, of anyone who claims they are out of the country and can't meet in person or anyone who sends you questionable links that could be viruses designed to steal your personal information.

If you're going to use online dating, follow your heart.

"If you get into a situation where you start to feel doubts or hesitation, pay attention to your instincts, because they're trying to tell you something," says Hendrickson.

"I think it's important to remember that Valentine's Day is all about every relationship," says Schmoll.

A friend or family valentine can do the trick to keep you safe from a broken heart and an empty wallet.

Experts from the Bureau say if you think you're being scammed, make sure to contact the dating site and your credit card company if you've given away any of your information.


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