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Beware of romance scammers online

Broken heart on smartphone screen
Broken heart on smartphone screen

Online scams have become increasingly more common over the years, especially with the rise of online dating.

Benjamin Schrope is acting director at the New Mexico Securities Division. He says scammers take on a fake identity to conceal themselves from the victim.

“It isn't necessarily just limited to one person, it can be an organized group pretending to be a particular individual, in an attempt to steal or manipulate money from somebody else,” he said.

Often scammers prey on the elderly or people who are craving companionship. They’re also trying to get personal information. Schrope says the approaches can come through dating apps, social media like Facebook, and even your phone.

“Somebody texts somebody and pretends like it's an accident. And that person texts back and before you know it, there's some interchange or communication back and forth,” he said.

ProPublica detailed these particular scams, called “pig butchering,” which originated in China and went global during the pandemic.

Schrope says there are a few precautions you can take to keep yourself safe. Do a quick google search of someone’s name. Don’t give someone your personal or financial information online. Be suspicious if they say they can’t meet in person.

“Be concerned if somebody you've met online, introduces you to some app or website, that's going to make you money,” he said.

And when someone offers you an investment, “If it's too good to be true, it probably is,” said Schrope.

New Mexico Securities Division has a website as well as a toll-free, (800)-704-5533, and local number, (505)-476-4580, where you can report any suspected scams that come your way.

Mia Casas is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Journalism and Theatre at the University of New Mexico. She comes to KUNM through an internship with the New Mexico Local News Fund and is staying on as a student reporter as of fall 2023.
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