The illusion of love is the key dynamic that drives the sweetheart scam. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear told ABC News affiliate WKRN that Valentine’s Day is when “catfishing” tends to become more aggressive because fraudsters know that’s the day “when we all could be a little lonely.”

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) along with other law enforcement agencies are warning the public to be particularly alert when using online dating and matchmaking services as this is the method of choice for manipulators. According to the BBB’s Scam Tracker, sweetheart scams have cost victims more than $500,000 in losses over the past year. And that figure comes only from incidents that are reported.

Brandi Zaccardi, Vice President of the BBB chapter in Middle Tennessee, recently shared a tale with the local news station of a Tennessee woman who lost money to a man she met on a Christian dating site.

“He really played the part of a sincere Christian, even calling me to pray with me over the phone before bedtime,” explained the victim in her letter to the BBB.

The BBB has advised anyone dating online or even in person to watch for the following red flags: read more.

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