COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's a time to shower your loved one with sweet treats. Sweetest Day, on Saturday, is a romantic holiday typically only recognized in the Midwest.
If you are looking for love online this Sweetest Day, you need to be careful. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning Ohioans about sweetheart scams, where a con artist develops a relationship with a victim, usually online before asking the victim to send money.
Since October 2011, The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section has received about 70 complaints involving these scams. Victims lost thousands of dollars. In fact, the average reported loss is more than $14,000, and the highest reported loss is $210,000.
"Con artists can spend months developing relationships with their victims, but eventually they'll make up some excuse why they need money," said Attorney General DeWine.
Usually the con artist meets the victim online through a dating website or social networking site. They start communicating through email, instant message, or phone.
The scammer eventually asks the victim to send money to help cover the cost of anything from medical expenses to airfare to come for a visit. Once the money is sent via wire transfer, it is nearly impossible to recover.
The Attorney General offers the following tips to protect against this type of scam:
·Research someone you meet online; don't rely on what that person tells you. Perform internet searches and consider getting a background check.
·Be cautious of individuals who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together.
·Talk to friends and family members about online relationships.
·Don't send money to someone you meet online, even if you have developed a relationship.
·Be very skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer or prepaid money cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.
Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515 or http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.