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Beshear: Sweetheart scam reports nearly $300K in losses for victims

FRANKFORT — As Valentine’s Day approaches, Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning Kentuckians to be wary of online dating scams that have already caused four victims in Campbell, Jefferson and Wayne counties to report losses of nearly $300,000 this year.

In each case, a “sweetheart scammer” used legitimate online dating websites Match.com and eHarmony to lure victims into a fake online relationship.

The scammer played on the victim’s emotions by duping them into sending thousands of dollars to supposedly help the recipient get out of various types of legal or financial trouble.

Beshear said one victim lost more than $12,000 to a sweetheart scammer and even purchased a wedding dress for a supposed February wedding date.

Beshear said in 2017, the FBI reported sweetheart scams cost victims in the United States more than $211 million in losses, which makes it the second-largest online crime in terms of money taken from victims.

The largest online crime where victims lose the most money involves fake business phishing scams.

Red flags of sweetheart scammer:

• Asks you to leave the official dating or social media site and communicate directly via text, email or online chats.

• Falls in love or befriends quickly.

• Says they are not able to meet in person.

• Claims to have an emergency and needs money to get out of legal or financial trouble.

• Requests money sent using untraceable methods of payment.

• Claims they will pay you back when you meet.

Sweetheart scammers also pretend to be someone they are not by stealing other people’s photos to use on their dating profiles. Conducting a Google image search is one way Kentuckians may be able to detect a scammer who is using another person’s photo.

To stay ahead of scammers, Kentuckians can sign up for the Office of the Attorney General’s Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311) or go online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.