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Consumer Assistance Program Releases Romance Imposter Video & Toolkit: Warns Vermonters of Scams

December 8, 2021

The First in a Three-Part Series on Imposter Scams

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

The Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) today released a video and toolkit alerting Vermonters of the dangers of imposter romance scams—a scam involving the formation of a relationship or friendship followed by requests for “financial help.” Imposter scams continue to be among the top scams reported by Vermonters to CAP. In 2020, “phony relationships” were the fifth most reported scam, resulting in a total loss of $349,166. Today’s video and toolkit are the first to be released in a three-part series on imposter scams.

“The best way to prevent scams is to raise awareness,” said Attorney General Donovan. “By creating this series of videos, we hope that Vermonters will be better able to spot scams to prevent them from happening in the first place. I want to thank the staff at CAP, our partners at the University of Vermont, and Hen House Media for their efforts on this important initiative.”

Romance imposter scams occur when con artists create fake online identities, typically on dating and social media sites, to gain the trust of targets. At some point in the relationship, financial help is needed and caring partners will offer funds. These relationships can last months or years, and entire savings have been lost. Common forms of payment include wire transfers, gift cards, cash, and access to accounts.

“Until it happens to you, it’s impossible to understand why a person would freely send money to someone they’ve never met in person,” said Pat McCarty, a Vermonter who contacted CAP for assistance after experiencing a relationship imposter scam. “But I’m here to tell you, even the most cynical, worldly, educated, and discerning person can, and does, get scammed! With literally hundreds of scams out there, and new ones popping up daily, I’m so honored to help others get out of their scams and find their power again. And, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that ANYONE can be scammed! I hear stories every day through my volunteer work of those who thought it would never happen to them. Knowledge is power. Learn all the red flags and warnings because it can happen to you or someone you care about.”

The video and toolkit released today provide information about how to spot the romance scam and the steps Vermonters can take to protect themselves. These steps include using reverse image searches to look up images of the person; video chatting at random times; consulting with close contacts, and reaching out to organizations like CAP for help. The video also warns Vermonters to never send money to someone they have not met in person.

The “Imposter Scam: Know Your Relationships” series was made possible with funding provided by the Sears Consumer Protection and Education Fund. Additionally, CAP would like to thank Hen House Media for their production assistance and the actors who generously volunteered their time.

Here are links to the romance imposter scam video and toolkit.

To report scams, complete the Consumer Assistance Program’s online reporting form or call 800-649-2424.