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AARP AARP States Florida Scams & Fraud

Want a Connection? Don't Give Scammers "Endless Love"

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Valentine’s Day is all about expressing love and gratitude for the people in your life – whether that be friends, family, or a significant other. But scammers like to take advantage of our goodwill, often pretending to be someone they’re not to gain our trust – and our financial information. Called “relationship scams,” this type of fraud can happen to anyone, not just those looking for love.

AARP Florida wants to make sure you’re prepared to spot and stop a relationship scam before it begins. Check out this info, and make sure to share it with your loved ones this season!

How Relationship Scams Work:

1. Initiating Contact:

Fraudsters are opportunistic, so they will use any method of contact available including dating apps, social media messaging, “wrong number” calls or text messages, in-person contact, and even grief and illness support groups and forums.

2. Establishing Trust
This is the getting to know you phase when the scammer will use clues and information about you that they find online to strategically “connect” with you by making up shared interests and experiences. This could be anything from a love for the same movie, or the recent experience of suffering the loss of a loved one – nothing is off limits here.

3. Relationship Conditioning

Also known as grooming, the fraudster will often normalize their behavior and actions. (“I’m a Pisces, so I fall in love fast.) or place conditions on the relationship (“You can’t tell anyone about us because no one will understand what we have.”). Oftentimes, the fraudster will also work to socially isolate their intended victim.

4. The Ask

Scammers might start with small requests to test the strength of the relationship and gradually increase to more expensive and risky asks. Some scammers won’t ask for anything directly but will instead create a scenario that naturally makes someone want to help out. Often, they will create a sense of urgency, like claiming to experience an emergency and needing help quick.

But what are the scammers after? It might be money (cash, wire transfers, virtual currency, gold, etc.) or they could be seeking your personal or financial information to sell on the dark web. In some cases, they are trying to get you to share racy pictures and recordings or sensitive and personal information, which they later use as blackmail.

 5. An Abrupt Ending

Just as quickly as it began, the relationship often ends without warning or explanation. Once the fraudster believes they have gotten as much as they can from the relationship, they may digitally disappear – deleting social media profiles, closing email accounts, and ignoring messages. In some cases, the fraudster will threaten to embarrass or harm a victim or victim’s family members to prevent them from reporting the fraud.

Want tips on how to prevent a relationship scam? While online, make sure to limit how much personal information you share, and research anyone who you connect with to make sure they’re real. Never send money or share sensitive data like verification codes from your bank. And lastly, be open about your relationship! If you’re keeping it a secret, ask yourself why.

To learn more about relationship scams, check out our AARP Florida Relationship Scam information sheet. If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam, you’re not alone, and AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline is here to help.

Please visit to learn about other resources and tips for protecting Floridians from fraud.

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