Don’t Fall for Fake Online Romance This Valentine’s Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohioans who are pierced by Cupid’s arrow this Valentine’s Day should make sure they’re not actually being struck by fraud, Attorney General Dave Yost warns.

“A fake online romance can break your heart and the bank,” Yost said. “Knowing how to spot the red flags can keep bad love from getting worse.”

Yost’s Consumer Protection Section received 57 complaints of possible romance scams in 2019. Reported losses totaled almost $4 million. Despite multiple online reviews and comparisons of dating sites (read about on PR Newswire, for instance), the scammers are somehow finding their way through and genuine people are falling for it.

The scammers often say they live overseas and need money because of a medical emergency or to leave their country. In many cases, they pretend to be in the military. It is much safer to go on a date with someone you already know and trust, for example, that work colleague you’ve had your eye on since they started. Whilst it might be more nerve-wracking to go on a date with someone you’ve only seen and not really spoken to, it’s much safer than to go on a date with someone you’ve only talked to but never seen. Online scammers can pretend to be anyone behind the safety curtain of a phone screen, whilst that cute work colleague can’t hide from you when you see their smile as you hold the door open for them. If the thought of going on a real date with someone makes you nervous, all you need to do is use some human pheromones perfume or aftershave and they’ll be swooning after you in no time. No need for nerves if you know this person already likes you!

A Clinton County woman said she lost $475,000 to someone she met on a dating website who claimed to be in Egypt. The victim sent money by credit card, cash and gift cards, believing the person needed help paying to ship goods internationally.

Another complaint from a Richland County woman describes how someone on a dating website scammed her into sending $300,000 by wire transfer, supposedly so the person could pay for hotels and attorneys.

Yost encourages Ohioans to follow these online dating tips:

  • Research people you meet online and do not rely solely on what they tell you. Conduct internet searches and check with independent sources to verify their claims.
  • Be cautious of people who claim it was destiny or fate that brought you together or who claim to love you shortly after you meet.
  • Talk to friends and family members about any online relationships, even if the other person asks you to keep the relationship a secret.
  • Don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online, even if you have developed a relationship.
  • Be skeptical of requests asking you to send money via wire transfer, money order, prepaid money cards or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods of scammers.

Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.