Millions lost to romance scams in NJ
💋NJ residents warned to beware of Valentine’s Day romance scams
💲The FBI in NJ says lonely people get duped out of millions every year ❤Folks over 60 are frequently targeted
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, a day when partners celebrate their love.
It’s also a day, according to the FBI in New Jersey, when scammers come out of the woodwork to prey upon those who are single and lonely.
According to Bobby Singh, the supervisory special agent for financial crimes in the FBI’s Newark Division, romance scams become a very big issue around Valentine’s Day.
I love you, please give me money
Singh said schemers will search for those looking for a relationship on social media sites, pretend to form a sudden, heart-to-heart relationship with them, then present some kind of scenario where they have to ask for money to continue the relationship.
“Romance scams have historically been one of the largest fraud scams that we have seen here in New Jersey,” Singh said.
New Jerseyans reported losing more than $30 million in romance scams in 2021, according to the most recent FBI data available.
Singh said 517 complaints were filed that year, many of them from people over the age of 60, but the actual number of individuals who wind up getting swindled is undoubtedly much higher.
Too embarrassing to admit
“People are embarrassed about that crime itself. Fraudsters are targeting the elderly because they are often individuals who have assets, or capital to deploy,” Singh said.
People who have elderly parents or grandparents should keep a watchful eye on them.
“Ask them who's new in their lives, is there a new love, is there a new connection, and expand on that further. If it seems to good to be true it likely is not true," Singh said.
He pointed out people who are lonely and get bamboozled by this kind scam aren’t necessarily naïve or stupid.
“I’ve seen victims across the spectrum. I’ve seen multiple individuals who are highly educated who have fallen victims to such schemes,” Singh said.
Watch your step online
Singh said forming relationships in cyberspace, where you never actually meet somebody in real life can be fraught with danger.
“When we’re walking in a dark parking lot at night, we’re always looking around and trying to be aware of our surroundings. The same thing holds true for people being online,” Singh said.
He stressed scammers are constantly coming up with new angle and strategies so New Jersey residents need to be careful.
“Fraud in general is hitting an all-time high and if you don’t have your guard up, if you’re not vigilant, you’re going to be taken advantage of,” Singh said.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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