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Better Business Bureau warns of Valentine’s Day scam

HASTINGS, Nebraska. (Nebraska) — Last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers should be on high alert for scammers as four such incidents are regularly reported to the Business Improvement Bureau.

The National Retail Federation estimates that consumer spending this Valentine’s Day will reach nearly $26 billion. And with so much money being spent, it’s important to watch out for imposter sites, romance scams, wrong number scams, and fake flower shop scams.

“For people who are looking for traditional gifts or decorations, chocolate or flowers, which are of course a great gift, but scammers know it is also a popular item,” said Josh Planos, BBB vice president of communications and public relations.

Pleinos said that among several reputable sites that provide such gifts, there are several that are not.

When it comes to fake jewelry sites, you can find anything from fake jewelry sellers to online dating sites. The BBB said it’s made it easier for scammers to use official photos, logos and more to create an attractive website that looks like the real thing. Some things to keep in mind are websites with products offering extreme discounts, merchants requiring customers to pay with money transfer or cryptocurrency apps, or if customer support is not available.

Another scam that the BBB notices more often in February and March is the romance scam.

Fraudsters often target vulnerable people who have recently gone through a breakup or other hardship.

Planos said the scammers are taking advantage of this to establish a connection and gain sympathy. Once they have hooked their victim with a sad story, they begin to pursue their true goal – money.

“It’s a really devastating week for consumers every year,” Planos said.

Some red flags come when the relationship moves too fast, you don’t meet in person, or if they ask for money.

Wrong number scam is another thing that people should be aware of. If you receive a message from someone, you may think you can reply, but they want to lure you into a conversation and get your personal information by asking you to register on an adult site.

Watch for messages that don’t stop, or if the sender invites you to sign a website.

Finally, when ordering flowers online, be careful: you are going to a legitimate website and buying flowers that will eventually be delivered. Consumers should double check to see if there are reviews on the website, a return policy, or if the deal seems too good to be true.

“Every year is a special moment,” Planos said. “This is also the time to be aware of what you are signing up for and understand the terms of the product or service you are hoping to receive.”

If you encounter a suspected scam, cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number. Then report your experience on BBB.org/ScamTracker. Dating site users also need to report suspicious activity to the platform so they can act against the scam account.

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