BREVARD COUNTY - Love is in the air during the month of February but beware of online scammers who want your money, not your heart.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued a Consumer Alert and a new ‘Scams at a Glance’ brochure for Floridians seeking companionship. She warns that imposters often pose as someone seeking love on dating sites, on social media or even in person. They try and gain your trust, but their ultimate aim is to swindle you.

If you are searching for companionship, make sure you are not being played by a scammer, especially when making a connection online.

Heartless scammers, especially around Valentine’s Day, prey on a person’s desire for companionship. “It’s a trick as old as cupid himself,” said Attorney General Moody in a news release. “Seducing targets with flattery and attention to get to their wallets through their hearts.”

For the last three years, reports of money lost by unsuspecting sweethearts on romance scams has skyrocketed higher than any other type of fraud. The year 2020 resulted in a record-breaking reported loss of $304 million nationally in romance scams. This is a 50% increase from 2019 and more than a quadruple increase from 2016.

“It’s important to be alert for scammers who may attempt to trick those seeking companionship into thinking they have found their soulmates,” said Moody. “So, remember to guard your heart, as well as your wallet, when seeking companionship, especially online.”

The new edition of ‘Scams at a Glance’ provides the following tips to guard against romance scams:

When meeting someone new online, ask detailed questions.

Seek the opinion of trusted friends and family members.

Conduct a reverse image search to see whether the image of a love interest is connected to any other accounts under different names or with different information.

Never establish a joint bank account, or give access to accounts, to new sweethearts.

Watch for typos or inconsistencies in speech patterns, personal information or stories shared in email, text, or social media conversations.

Never send money or gifts to someone who has not been met in person—even if they send money first; and

Be aware that scammers may claim they need money urgently to travel to meet in person, take advantage of a business opportunity or deal with a family tragedy.

To view the Scams at a Glance: Swindling Sweethearts brochure, click here - https://bit.ly/3pgwOEz.

Anyone who encounters a romance scam, or any other type of fraud, can file a complaint with the Attorney General at MyFloridaLegal.com or by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.

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