Watch out for "sweetheart scammers" as Valentine's Day nears

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - At least four victims in Kentucky have already fallen prey to a "sweetheart scammer" this year and have lost almost $300,000 total.

In each of these cases, the scammer used online dating websites and eHarmony to trick victims into a fake online relationship.

The scammer uses the fake relationship to play on the victim's emotions, eventually convincing them to send thousands of dollars to help get the scammer out of "legal or financial trouble".

Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a news release that one victim of this scam lost more than $12,000 and even bought a wedding dress for a fake wedding date in February 2019.

In 2017, the FBI reported sweetheart scams cost U.S. victims more than $211 million.

Beshear warned Kentuckians to watch out for red flags that can signal a sweetheart scam:

- Asks you to leave the official dating or social media site and communicate directly via text, email or online chats.
- Falls in love or befriends quickly.
- Says they are not able to meet in person.
- Claims to have an emergency and needs money to get out of legal or financial trouble.
- Requests money sent using untraceable methods of payment.
- Claims they will pay you back when you meet.

Another way to check to see if someone is scamming you is to do a Google image search for the person's profile photo. If they are a scammer, the photo will likely be stolen from someone else.

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