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AG Beshear warns of online 'sweetheart' scams

Online dating scams bilked more than $80,000 from Kentuckians last year
Click on headline for complete story, checklist of warnings that it's a scam

By Terry Sebastian or Crystal Staley

FRANKFORT, KY (1 Feb 2017) - As Valentine's Day approaches, Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning Kentuckians of the "sweetheart" scam, which reports suggest caused Kentuckians to lose more than $80,000 last year.

A sweetheart scammer typically uses a fake photo and identity to approach a victim through social media or online dating sites and acts as if they are interested in getting to know him or her.

Over time, the scammer works to develop a long-distance, sham relationship with the victim. Once the scammer gains the victim's trust, they pretend to need emergency funds and asks the victim to wire money, send prepaid gift cards or other hard-to-trace payment methods.

Beshear said the beginning of the year and Valentine's Day brings about scammers who are looking to exploit those seeking new friendships and relationships.

"We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers - and this is especially true when it comes to helping our friends and family avoid falling victim to a scam," said Beshear. "I encourage everyone to call or visit with those they care for this month, especially younger or older relatives who may live alone or be lonely, and discuss scams and help them to know the common warning signs."

Beshear said identifying these red flags could help stop a sweetheart scam, watch for someone who:
  • Claims very quickly that they are in love.
  • Refuses to meet in person
  • Asks to leave the protections of a legitimate dating or social media site and communicate via email, text or instant messenger
  • Demands the relationship be a secret
  • Provides information that cannot be verified through an independent online search or through trustworthy sources
  • Demands money or gift cards sent overseas
  • Solicits sensitive personal or financial information.
Kentuckians who suspect a scam should contact the Office of the Attorney General at 502-696-5300 and fill out an online complaint form.

One of the critical missions of the Office of the Attorney General is to help Kentucky families and seniors recognize and avoid scams.

Beshear recently issued a scam alert warning Kentuckians of IRS and tax-related identity theft scams.

Kentuckians are urged to stay up to date on new and trending scams by signing up for Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at and select text message or email alert.

This story was posted on 2017-02-02 04:42:59
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