Be wary of scam artists using social networking and online dating sites

Baltimore - It may be Valentine's Day, but not everybody has found that special someone to celebrate with. But your search for love may turn up scammers if you're not careful. ABC2 News Joce Sterman has the scoop so you don't end up heartbroken in this week's Scam Alert.

If you're still waiting for Cupid's arrow, chances are you've tried surfing the net to find that special someone. Online dating and social networking are an option. But those pages pose two problems. First, your dream date can stay anonymous and secondly, no one knows whether what they're posting is the truth. As a result, if you’re too trusting, you could become a target. Stacey Ferguson is a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission. She says, “Where people are, scammers will go to. So there are scammers on online dating sites and social networking sites, looking to take advantage of consumers who are too trusting.”

The FTC says your online love might be a scam artist if they claim instant feelings of love and attraction, plan a meeting or visit and then abruptly cancel or if they may make multiple, persistent requests for money for an emergency or help with a struggling business. Ferguson explains, “Generally, once they ask you for money, and you give it to them, the requests are going to keep coming in. And they're going to come up with a variety of reasons why they need the money.”

You should also be wary of messages from so-called long-lost friends that you don't seem to remember. Those friend requests could be a scammer scanning your social networking page. And you should use the same instincts you'd use when meeting someone face to face. So if your next date sounds too good to be true, he or she probably is.

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