BANGOR- If you don’t have a valentine and are resorting to dating apps, just remember to use common sense.
“There are legitimate sites out there, but there are some people who will take advantage of others on those sites,” explained Sgt. Wade Betters of the Bangor Police Department. “They’ll put out false information, fake photographs…really believable things.”
Common advice for meeting people you’ve connected with online includes meeting in public places and telling friends where you’re going.
“We have to be aware for ourselves of what our boundaries are and what we want to know about anyone before meeting them,” said Casey Faulkingham, a community response team leader at Partners for Peace.
Faulkingham said it’s important not to get swept off your feet if the first date goes well.
Whether you met the person online or not, it’s important to communicate boundaries and stick with them.
“A lot of over abusive tactics are not going to happen on the first date. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a second date. That’s what makes abusers so savvy and so sneaky about things,” Faulkingham explained. “They are very sweet and charming at the beginning then more power and control is introduced into the relationship.”
While it’s important to be guarding your heart, it’s also important to guard your wallet.
The Federal Trade Commission reported romance scams were the most common type of fraud in 2018.
People in the US were swindled out of more than $143 million.
“People have received checks in the mail from who they believe is a person they’ve been engaged with online in a relationship and the check is basically stolen,” said Betters. “A criminal case is associated with it. When we go to look online, that person has just disappeared.”
Avoid a heartbreak and criminal charges this Valentines Day by being safe.
If a first date seems like it could turn into a dangerous situation, contact a friend or local law enforcement.