Who doesn't want to feel wanted and loved, right? But, if documentaries like Dirty John and The Tinder Swindler have taught us anything, it's that criminals will use those emotions and desires to scam innocent victims out of as much money as they can. New York authorities are warning residents ahead of Valentine's Day that scoundrels and schemers can be lurking on dating apps, preying on people looking for love.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection warns that these criminals are posing as 'dream partners,' but instead, steal your personal information and defraud you.

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said,

“This Valentine’s Day, I encourage New Yorkers who are looking for an online love connection to follow basic safety tips to avoid losing their hard-earned money through false promises.”

Who Is At Risk?

Authorities warn that anyone can become a victim, but criminals often target women and men over the age of 40, the elderly, widows/widowers, and divorcees.

How They Earn Your Trust:

- They will often pose as your dream partner, playing off your weaknesses and desires. They will be overly communicative and may even send you gifts to win you over.

- Scammers may claim they live abroad or are deployed, to create distance between you and them. Often, they will plan to visit you in person, only to have an 'emergency' prevent them from coming.

- Eventually, they will ask you for money, usually a large amount as a loan. They will find reasons to ask you for more money until you realize they have no intention of paying you back, then they will ghost you.

How To Protect Yourself:

- Never give money or a loan to someone you've never met or hardly know.

- Don't give any personal information to someone you just met on a dating app or a dating event.

- Research, research, research. Do a Goole search on them, do a reverse-image search, and even a background check on a potential love interest.

- Avoid contact with people you barely know who ask you for money.

If you believe you've been scammed, you can file a complaint with the NY Division of Consumer Protection.

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