Feb 13, 2024 - News

Tips to help Floridians spot romance scams

Illustration of sweet hearts candy with a skull and crossbones, "Byte Me", "$weet Pea", "Gold Digger", "Be Mine" and "Love You" written on them.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

This Valentine's Day swipe right on caution, left on romance scams.

Why it matters: More than 1,000 Floridians fell victim to so-called romance scams in 2022, losing $53 million, the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported.

  • Generative AI, capable of creating fictitious videos, photos and voice messages, makes it easier than ever for bad actors to prey on your heart and wallet.

How it works: Romance scams refer to cons involving online dating. The scammer typically creates a fake profile, builds trust, and ultimately asks for money.

  • Romance scammers often steal profile pictures of ordinary people and celebrities or create one using AI.

We've rounded up a few tips from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the state Attorney General's office to help you spot a scammer.

  • Be mindful of what you post online. Biographical information, posts about your hobbies, and even selfies wearing a sports T-shirt can feed scammers details they'll use to target you.
  • Screenshot profiles pictures and run them through a reverse image search, like Google's or Tineye's. AI often struggles with creating realistic glasses, hands and teeth.
  • Don't send money to anyone you haven't met in person. Scammers often request money for "urgent matters, such as medical expenses or a plane ticket to see you."
  • Scammers typically ask questions about you but avoid answering questions about themselves.
  • Arrange a time to meet in person in a public place. Scammers often say they're overseas or cancel plans at the last minute.
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