PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning Arizonans to beware of scammers who are using Valentine's Day to cash in on unsuspecting people looking for love.

"Crooks will use every opportunity they can, every holiday they can, and this is the time of year, it’s Valentine’s Day," Brnovich warned. "We’ve seen an uptick."

Romance scams often start on social media or dating websites. Some common cons; Your new love interest needs money for a flight to meet you, he needs you to pay for an expensive surgery, or even shell out cash to pay off gambling debts.

Now there's a new twist to the old romance scam. According to Fraud.org, scammers are scouring so-called sugar daddy websites to find their victims. The sites often promise users companionship in exchange for financial support.

"What the scammers have done now, they will pretend to be a sugar daddy or a sugar mama and they’ll promise to pay someone’s tuition or credit card bills," Brnovich said. "That person, that college student will provide all this information and will basically get ripped off."

There was a 250% increase in the number of reported sugar daddy scams in 2019, according to Fraud.org.

"You've got to be weary of anyone you meet online," Brnovich said. "If anyone is trying to move you to a separate chat or isolate you from your friends or family or says, ‘hey don’t talk about our relationship,’ those are huge red flags."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, people lose more money to romance scams that any other type of scam. The median reported loss is $2,600.

 

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