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Don’t fall head over heels for dating scams


Romance scams are happening. Here’s how to avoid them.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, flowers are being ordered, heart-shaped gifts are being purchased, and plans are being made for those special people in our lives. Love may be in the air, but be aware that this love-filled holiday also brings out the romance scammers. Being cautious of those sweet online messages from people you may not personally know is crucial to avoid falling prey to a dating or sweetheart scam.

What is a sweetheart scam?

While a sweetheart scam can play out in many ways, the intention is most commonly to steal money. Typically, the scammer will contact someone they’ve never met online through social media or online dating sites and work to form a bond through private messages.

As that relationship progresses, they devise a reason to meet, then fake an “emergency” and ask for money or personal banking information. Once the scammer receives the money or personal banking information, they will steal it and either stop communication or continue to prey on the relationship to receive more.

In addition to this style of sweetheart scam, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) recently issued an alert to warn financial institutions and the general public about a newer virtual currency investment scam commonly referred to as “pig butchering.” Scammers take advantage of victims in this type of scam by gradually luring them into increasing contributions to a “sound investment” in cryptocurrency before the scammer disappears. Read more from FinCEN on this type of scam and how to protect yourself here.

How to protect yourself:

Scammers are good at what they do and want you to feel comfortable sharing your information. While it can seem tempting to share your personal details with someone you think you can trust, sharing your banking information with someone you do not know is never a good idea.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from falling for a romance scam:

  1. Set up card controls on your debit and credit cards. Simmons Bank has card controls through our app that can help you catch fraud on your account even faster by being alerted when your card is used. Learn more here.
  2. Only send money to people you know through online payment platforms. Located in the Simmons Bank app, Zelle® enables you to send and receive money with friends and family you know wherever they bank in the U.S. Learn more here.
  3. Report any fraudulent activity or scams to your financial institution. Simmons Bank’s Fraud Department can help you with the follow-up steps, but it is essential to act quickly, so contact them as soon as possible.
  4. Report the fraud to law enforcement, such as local police, your state’s Attorney General’s office, and the FBI. Filing a formal complaint can help protect others from becoming victims.

Let’s review!

Always trust your instincts. Do not share your personal financial information with someone you do not know or trust, especially online. If you ever have questions about the legitimacy of a situation, you should contact your financial institution. Simmons Bank customers can use this form to contact our customer service team for help! More information on common frauds can also be found by visiting our Fraud Education page.

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