Sweetheart scams abound this Valentine's Day
Published Monday, February 13, 2012 11:52AM PST
Love is in the air this Valentine's Day, but the Better Business Bureau warns that scam artists are using the holiday to take advantage of those looking for love.
"Before you spend your paycheque in the name of love and romance, do your homework to avoid being scammed," says BBB president Lynda Pasacreta.
The agency warns of two popular scams circulating around that prey on people looking for love or are already in a relationship.
Online romance scams
Millions of people use online dating sites in an effort to meet that special someone. But con artists are also using the same sites to search out victims, says the BBB.
Pasacreta says scammers create fake profiles targeting singles of any age and in any city online, in the hopes of convincing their victims to send them money "in the name of love."
Others can be even bolder, she warns, arranging meets with singles before stealing their valuables at the first opportunity.
The BBB says to guard your heart, and your wallet. Scammers prey on people's vulnerabilities to take their victim's money. If your new sweetie tries to get you to splash out on travel expenses right off the bat, it could be a scam.
Fun, free and cute e-cards may seem like the perfect way to say "Be Mine" to a long-distanced loved one. But a common Valentine's Day scam comes in the form of an email that directs people to a fake website that looks like a popular greeting card website.
The site prompts the user to download the latest version of Flash to play the card, but once the user clicks on the link a virus is automatically downloaded to their computer. It then exposes their email contact list and puts them at risk of identity theft and fraud.
E-card sites aren't the only ones that are being hit with phishing scams, says the BBB.
Facebook users may see messages asking them to add a Valentine's Day theme to their profile – but actually will be hit by a malware virus if they accept the invitation.
On Twitter, users seeking links to dating sites really open themselves up to people stealing their personal information.
The BBB says that it's wise only to open attachments, emails and links from people that you actually know. You can also bump up the protection on your email filters to block spam emails.
Watch CTV tonight for a full report tonight from Lynda Steele, plus a look at what people are buying for their four-legged friends for Valentine's Day