Fraud Chronicles Newsroom Security Articles & Alerts

Spotlight: Romance Scams

Valentine’s Day may be over, but fraudsters are always online looking for their next victim. Millions of people use online dating apps or social media sites to meet their perfect match, and in the midst of finding true love, scammers are looking for a way to trick victims into sending money.

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Their profile picture looks like a model
  • They reach out unexpectedly and express romantic interest quickly
  • The person is adamant to communicate with you through a different text/call-free app
  • Excuses for why they cannot meet in person (military, living overseas, illness)
  • They make a sudden request for money to deal with an emergency or make a sure-fire investment.

Protect yourself from a Romance Scam:

  • Be aware of overly flirtatious, complimentary messages.
  • Take it slow. Ask your potential “perfect match” a lot of questions and look out for inconsistencies.
  • Get advice from friends and family about your new love interest.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you provide.
  • Do not send cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency or add money to a reloadable debit card for someone you do not know. You will not get the funds back.
  • Cut off contact immediately if you suspect your new love interest may be a fraudster.

Trending: Cryptocurrency Scams

Cryptocurrency— decentralized digital currencies that exist only online such as Bitcoin and Ether— is popular with online traders and a hotbed for potential fraud. New cryptocurrencies are created regularly, and while investors can sometimes make a profit, many have fallen victim to bogus investment platforms and scams.

These scams include:

  • “Celebrity endorsements” – Criminals pose online as a celebrity or billionaire promise to increase your investment in crypto but pocket the funds that you send instead
  • Pump-and-dumps – Fraudsters use messaging or social media apps to create rumors that a famous celebrity mogul is promoting a certain currency
  • Ponzi schemes – Crooks use crypto to create an illusion of huge payouts by paying off old investors with new investors’ money
  • Romance scams – Fraudsters persuade people they meet on social media or dating apps to invest or trade in cryptocurrency.

Many people have reported losing money to a scam that involves an ad or a post on a social media site. Be mindful that virtual money (crypto), isn’t backed by any government or central bank.

Tips to protect yourself from Cryptocurrency scams:

  • Understand the risk. Cryptocurrency is unregulated and no investment is guaranteed.
  • Resist pressure into buying Crypto quickly. Fraudsters generally create a false sense of urgency to push victims to invest or send funds.
  • Do your research. Even reputable trading sites can be used for scams.
  • Carefully read any agreements with the digital wallet provider. Unlike banks and credit card companies, they might not be responsible for your money if it’s stolen.
  • Never share your private keys. No one except you should have access to your wallet key for any reason.

Awareness: Mail Theft and Check Fraud

Law enforcement agencies nationwide are contending with a growing issue of checks being stolen from mailboxes and post office boxes. Criminals have taken to stealing keys from post office workers to pull many checks at once. The criminals then alter the checks by “washing” them to add new payees and make it payable for whatever amount they wish.

Here are some potential red flags of mail theft:

  • The payee has not received the check and it has been over two weeks. If you haven’t seen a check clear in a normal time frame, follow up with the payee to confirm if they have received the check.
  • The check has cleared your account for a wrong amount and/or wrong payee. Contact the bank immediately to dispute the check and close the compromised account.
  • Suspicious activity: The USPS suggests if you see something that looks suspicious (such as someone following your carrier) not to approach and to call 911 immediately.

Tips to keeping your mailed checks secure:

  • Use dark ink that can’t be easily erased or covered over. Blue or black gel pens are better to use and are much harder to wash off of a check compared to regular ball point pens.
  • Mail checks from inside the post office. If you must mail a check, mailing it inside a post office is safer than a mailbox.
  • Monitor your check images. This can be done using online banking or by reviewing your statement. This lets you report suspicious activity as soon as possible.
  • Try not to leave incoming or outgoing mail sitting in your mailbox for an extended period of time, particularly overnight. If you choose to leave outgoing mail in your mailbox, don’t put up the flag.
  • Do not leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines. Try to fill in empty space with bigger writing or lines.

If you think your mail has been stolen, you can report it at USPIS at or by calling 877-876-2455. If you think a check has been stolen, contact The Village Bank immediately at 617-969-4300.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact our Customer Care Center immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report it to the FTC at

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