Valentine’s Day is a day filled with emotion, but it’s also an opportune time for scam artists to take advantage of those looking for love and steal their hearts—and their money.
“Before you spend you paycheque in the name of love and romance, do your homework to avoid being scammed” says Lynda Pasacreta, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Mainland B.C.
For those who are searching for love or are already in a relationship, the Better Business Bureau warns people to watch out for these scams:
Romance Scams online
Millions of Canadians are using online dating sites to look for that perfect match. But scammers also use these sites, looking for their own match perfect victim. They target singles of any age and in any location, creating fake profiles designed to convince their victim to send them money in the name of love. Others are even more bold, arranging to meet single women in person before stealing their valuables at the first opportunity.
Tip: Don’t fall for a person who claims to be in love with you at first sight. Scammers usually use emotional ties to increase the chances of getting your money. If your match asks you to pay for the travel expenses, there is a high probability that it is a scam.
E-Cards and Social Media Scams
Phishing scams that target people waiting for notes of love are all too common. One common Valentine’s Day scam comes in the form of an email, which directs the recipient to a fake website that looks like a popular greeting card website, like Hallmark. The site prompts the recipient of the card to download the latest version of Flash Player in order to view the card. Once the user clicks the link, a virus is automatically downloaded and invades their computer, exposing the person and their email contact book to potential identity theft and financial loss. Other phishing scams are on social media sites. A popular Facebook scam posted on a user’s wall offers to add a Valentine’s Day theme to their profile. Users who install the application are and actually installing a malware virus. On Twitter, users are seeing links to supposed online dating sites which are really a play to get users to put in their information leading to ID theft and financial loss.
Tip: Make sure you only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know. Enhance your email filters to block any such threats. Watch out for unsolicited emails with subject lines like “Someone just sent you an e-card” or “Send your loved one a Valentine's Day card today”.
Flowers can say “I love you”, and a florist is just a phone call or click away. But not all florists are created equal. One Ontario-based online florist, Bloomex Inc., has received 273 complaints from the BBB in the last three years (57 complaints from B.C. consumers) and has an F-rating. Complaints that allege that either the flowers were not delivered as promised (wrong flowers or arrangements) or not delivered at all. Some consumers claim that the charges to their credit card were not as agreed upon. A number of complaints also expressed concern with a $10 processing fee that was charged after canceling the transaction when the flowers did not arrive on the date promised.
Tip: Consumers should make sure to read the terms and conditions before making any online purchase, and check out the company’s BBB rating at www.mbc.bbb.org. Consider shopping locally with a business you know rather than one you found online.