ALBANY — As Valentine’s Day approaches, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is warning New Yorkers about romance and sextortion scams.
Officials are offering information and tools to help identify and outsmart scammers who prey on people’s emotions and trust.
Romance scams occur when a criminal lies about their identity and uses romantic interest to manipulate or steal from the victim. Thieves use different variations of these scams to deceive unsuspecting daters.
One common variation used is “sextortion,” in which scammers encourage victims to send intimate images of themselves then demand money to keep it a secret and threaten to expose the victim to their contacts, family, friends and colleagues if payment isn’t sent.”
Although almost any age group can be lured into romance scams, but those most frequently targeted include teens, especially boys; college students; men and women over 40 years old; and senior citizens, especially widows, widowers and recent divorcees.
COMMON SCAM TECHNIQUES
- Fake profile pictures — Scammers create the illusion of someone you would be attracted to and trust. They seek opportunities to meet someone online and create profiles on a wide range of online platforms including social media, dating sites, messaging apps and porn sites. They often use pictures from the internet for their profile and may disguise their voice on the phone.
- Building trust — Scammers are patient and will communicate for weeks or months until they’ve earned your trust.
- Unavailable to meet in person — Scammers may propose an in-person meeting, claiming they will travel to see you, but there will be a last-minute emergency preventing it from happening. Be suspicious of anyone who says they want to meet but then always makes excuses for why they can’t.