CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate that special someone in your life. However, the holiday is also a prime time for scammers to attack.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central Illinois reported that romance scam cases more than doubled in the first two months of 2022 when compared to the same period the previous year. Victims were tricked into relationships with frauds whose only goal was to steal money and/ or their credit card information.

According to projections by the National Retail Federation, consumers are projected to spend nearly $26 billion this year on candy, gifts, and other expenses related to the holiday. BBB of Central Illinois is reminding everyone of these scams as you prepare for the holiday.

Impostor Websites

BBB of Central Illinois said anyone from jewelry sellers to online dating sites can be an imposter website. Scammers can easily lift official photos, sale promotions, and logos directly from the website of a popular jewelry brand, making it look like a real website. 

These imposter websites could potentially steal your personal data and credit card information. Some red flags of imposter websites include:

  • Products are available at extreme discounts.
  • The seller requests customers pay with cash transfer apps or cryptocurrency.
  • Customer service is unreachable. 

Romance Scams

BBB of Central Illinois said romance scammers often target people who have experienced a recent breakup or other hardship. The scammers then take advantage of that heartbreak and pursue a connection with the victim.

The scammers move forward with their main intent to steal money and personal information from that person. Some red flags of romance scams include:

  • The relationship moves very fast.
  • You never meet in person.
  • They ask for money.

Wrong Number

If a wrong number messages you, it could be a scammer. The scammer’s goal is to pull you into a conversation, and eventually obtain your personal information by directing you to sign up for an adult site. Some red flags of wrong number scams include:

  • The messages don’t stop.
  • The sender directs you to sign up for a website.
  • They try to get your personal information.

Fake Florist

Ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day is common, but it could be a scam. BBB of Central Illinois has received many reports of shoppers who thought they were ordering flowers from an online florist. Those people either received a disappointing arrangement or nothing at all.

Some red flags of fake florist scams include:

  • The business has no reviews or bad reviews.
  • You can’t find a return policy or satisfaction guarantee.
  • The deal is “too good to be true.” 

What to do if you encounter a scam

BBB of Central Illinois said if you encounter a suspected romance scam, you should cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number. You then need to report your experience to BBB of Central Illinois here.

They also said that dating site users should report suspicious activity to the platform, so they can take action against the scammer account.

More information about romance scams can be found here.