Consumer alert: Beware of ‘money muling’ within romance scam

Action Line

With Valentine’s Day coming up, officials have a warning about romance scams. The Better Business Bureau says there’s more to the online dating scheme than you think.

Romance scams are often started through online dating sites or apps. After establishing a relationship, the scammer starts asking for favors or help with moving money. The victim is then moving large amounts of money for their online love, becoming a money mule.

“They’ve already got them on the hook they are in love with them, so these people now use this person to launder some of their money,” Roseann Freitas said, BBB Hawaii Marketplace Manager.

Unfortunately this isn’t uncommon. In 2018, 30 percent of romance scams reported involved the victim being used as a money mule.

Here are some red flags to look out for.

“There’s always an excuse as to why they can’t meet or to why they need money from you. They’ll also give you an elaborate story about why you need to be transferring your money for them.”

One way to protect yourself is to never involve money in a relationship where you’ve never met the person face to face.

“Don’t open an account for somebody else you don’t know and don’t be part of their account especially if this person is online and you’ve never had interaction with.”

If you think you’re in the middle of a relationship scam, report it to authorities immediately.

“If you feel like this is happening to you or to a loved one, you can report that to the FBI or your local authorities and let them know and file a report.”

If you have a concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call Monday through Friday at 591-0222. You can also send an email to actionline@khon2.com.

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