NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The FBI is warning New Mexico of a number of possible scams related to romance this Valentine’s Day season. They say in 2021, there were more than 170 victims of these types of scams in New Mexico alone.
According to an FBI press release, a third of the victims were over the age of 60 and lost almost $1.5 million, accounting for 70% of the total loss across all age groups. The FBI says since many victims are probably embarrassed to report the scam, the actual numbers are likely higher.
Officials say romance scams are usually perpetrated by men targeting older women who are divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled. One scam that is currently gaining popularity is known as “pig butchering.”
This is where the scammer contacts the victim, usually on a dating app or site, and builds trust quickly. The scammer will then convince the victim to make investments in cryptocurrency and the victim will be directed to a website that is controlled by the scammer.
After the victim makes several cryptocurrency investments through the fake sites, requests by the victims to withdraw money will be denied and the scammer will vanish, cutting off contact with the victim.
How to protect yourself:
- Educate yourself on what a romance scam is, how to avoid it, and what to do if you are a victim.
- Good sources of information are fbi.gov/romancescams and IC3.gov.
- Keep an eye on your elderly relatives. Beware if an individual attempts to isolate them from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information.
- Be careful what you post online about yourself and your family.
- Never send money to anyone you haven’t met in person.
- Avoid being rushed into taking action because of an “emergency.”
- Talk with family and friends if anything seems “too good to be true.”
- End all contact if there are any red flags.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a romance scam, they are urged to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.