Valentine's Day. Unfortunately it's not all chocolates and roses. February 14 is a day that reminds some people that someone is missing from their lives. That's why the Maricopa County Attorney's Office is warning residents of the “Sweetheart Scam,” a type of scam where the swindler targets lonely widowers or divorcees, then bilks them out of their life savings.
According to the agency:
The scammers are experts at flattery and gaining trust-even emotional intimacy-with the intent to get someone to let her or his guard down enough to take advantage of them. They find their victims in a variety of ways, from dating websites, to trolling locations such as grocery stores, hospital cafeterias or even parking lots where they might find a vulnerable target.
The county attorney's office said many of these scammers meet their victims online through dating websites. Here are five red flags:
- If the person claims to be from the United States, but is currently traveling, living or working abroad
- If he/she claims to be recently widowed
- Tells you how successful they are, but has spelling and other errors in their correspondence
- Talks about “destiny” or “fate” in meeting you
- Sends you flowers or other gifts
If you believe this has happened to you, you are urged to contact your local police department, the Arizona Attorney General's Office, Federal Trade Commission or Area Agency on Aging.