Avoid breaking the bank and your heart this Valentine’s Day: Ohio attorney general warns of dating site scammers

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost warns against scammers who use online dating sites to target their victims.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost warns against scammers who use online dating sites to target their victims.

Ohioans should be wary of online scammers who can not only break the bank, but your heart this Valentine’s Day.

Attorney General Dave Yost warns against online scammers who use dating sites to conduct their scams.

"Knowing how to spot the red flags can keep bad love from getting worse,” Yost said.

Yost’s Consumer Protection Section received 57 complaints of possible romance scams in 2019. Losses totaled almost $4 million, the report said.

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Scammers often say they live overseas and will often tell people they need money for a medical emergency or travel expenses to leave the country. They will frequently pretend to be in the military.

A woman from Clinton County said she lost $475,000 to someone she met on a dating site she claimed to be in Egypt. She sent money by credit card, cash and gift cards, believing the scammer needed help paying to ship goods internationally.

A complaint from a Richland County woman details how someone on a dating website scammed her into sending $300,000 wire transfer, supposedly so the person could pay for hotels and attorneys.

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Yost encourages people to follow these online dating tips:

Research people you meet online and do not rely solely on what they tell you. Conduct internet searches and check with independent sources to verify their claims.

Be cautious of people who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together or who claim to love you shortly after you meet.

Talk to friends and family about an online relationship, even if the other person asks you to keep the relationship a secret.

Be skeptical of requests asking you to send money via wire transfer, money order, prepaid money cards or gift cards. Scammers prefer these methods.

If you suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.ohioprotects.org or 800-282-0515.