People looking for love online are targeted for Internet fraud more than anyone else, the FBI revealed in its annual online fraud report.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, said romance confidence scams cost victims an average of $14,214.
Although men are slightly more likely to be victimized by Internet crime, the report found that women were disproportionately victimized by romance cons, accounting for 70% of the cases, NBC reports.
“Criminals search dating websites, chat rooms, and social media websites for personally identifiable information, and use well-rehearsed scripts to attract potential victims,” it said. “Victims of these scams believe they are in a relationship with someone who is honest and trustworthy without meeting them in person.”
IC3 offered the following tip to avoid being scammed:
- Don’t respond to any unsolicited email, phone call or mail requesting your personal information.
- Don’t fill out forms in email messages asking for personal information.
- Don’t click on email links. Instead, go to the official website of the business or group and start from there,
- Maintain at least two email addresses — one for people you know and one for all other purposes.
- Frequently check your bank statements to avoid unauthorized charges and monitor for fraud.
- Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call.
- Don’t do business with people or companies operate only from a post office box address.
- Don’t accept packages which you didn’t order.
- If someone you’ve never met tells you he or she loves you but needs money to visit you, don’t buy it.