Online dating scammers are on the prowl in February

Staying safe while meeting strangers

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The amount of new members on dating sites jump around the holiday season and scammers are most prevalent around Valentines Day. 

The FBI says the most common targets of these scams are women over 40, but everyone is at risk.

While most scammers have quit asking for money, they surprisingly convince their victims to meet them at private locations. This is where someone is the most vulnerable and susceptible to being robbed or assaulted. 

Online dating expert, Julie Spira, warns users to always meet in public places. 

She also believes trusting your instincts can go a long way and if you ever feel uncomfortable, to leave the situation as quickly as possible. 

One of the first ways to spot a scammer is to look at their profile pictures. "When we look at online dating profiles, sometimes we see something that is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. So when you're looking at someone's profile and the pictures all look too perfect, as if they're stock photos, take those photos and put them into Google Image Reverse Search." 

Spira also believes that as long as a person is careful, online dating is no more dangerous than talking to a stranger in a bar. 

AlertID, a company dedicated to helping families live safely also issued a few reminders on how to stay safe. They urge users to use a disposable email account for contact purposes and to never give out your home phone number. 

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