This February 14 be a Valentine not a Victimby Nick LaFleur on Feb. 10, 2012, under alert, Life, phishing, scam, Tips
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warns that Cupid’s arrow may be aimed directly at consumers’ wallets. Those who find themselves awash in love’s emotion should remember that con artists thrive on the fact that emotion can trump logic.
There are three categories of scams that we all should be aware of at this romantic season as well as throughout the year.
Their photo may be attractive and their story may sound compelling but that person you met through an online dating site may turn out to be the very opposite of your soul mate. Photos, profiles and stories can be easily faked on dating sites. One common tactic is to claim to be a successful overseas businessperson with no family.
After what seems like sincere conversation in which many questions are asked of you, the scammer can skillfully employ psychology to say precisely what you want to hear.
Once the ice is broken and a comfort level has been reached on your part, the heart of the matter is arrived at: they need financial assistance. They may want you to cash a check for them or otherwise help them out of a financial difficulty. It could be travel expenses, medical expenses or some other type of debt. At any rate it is your money less than your heart that they are after. MoneyGram, one of the major global money transfer companies, has estimated that romance scams defraud victims of over $10,000 for each occurrence. For those so victimized, whatever the amount, a website called romancescams.org can be helpful.
When love is in bloom many rely on the traditional symbol of thoughtfulness, the bouquet, to convey their feelings for that special person. But be aware that online florists are not always reliable. If the flowers that are actually received by your loved one are inferior arrangements from those ordered, or even not delivered at all, it can be a wilting experience.
Scammers may send you emails saying that the flowers you ordered cannot be delivered unless you log in to their site and re-enter your credit card information. These emails are sent out in large numbers hoping to eventually find the inboxes of someone who has really sent flowers to their sweetheart. They are playing on consumers emotions by planting the fear that the bouquet may not reach the intended and that person will feel forgotten on Valentine’s Day. If you think the message may be legitimate, go to the florist’s website or give them a phone call, using the original site from which you ordered rather than the link on the email.
The best way to assure that flowers reach your beloved just as you ordered them is to rely on a local florist. A website devoted to uncovering florist scammers can be found at floristdetective.com.
Phishing attempts abound around the e-card industry. A frequently used technique is to email a message saying you have a card waiting to be viewed. You are then directed to a fake website that resembles a popular site like Hallmark or American Greetings.
Once you are there a prompt tells you to download the latest version of Flash Player in order to view the e-card. Click that link and a virus is quickly downloaded and attacks your computer. Instead of having your loved one steal your heart, a scammer has stolen your identity.
Consumers should always exercise care in opening emails, links or attachments from those you do not know. Especially suspicious are unsolicited messages with subject lines saying “Someone just sent you an e-card” or “Send your loved one a Valentines Card today.”
Avoid becoming victimized by scammers who rely on the old adage that “love is blind.” Keep a clear head and open eyes this Valentine’s Day. Contact BBB by calling (520)888-5353 with questions or concerns if you think someone is going less for your heart and more for your wallet.