As tax refunds begin to trickle in to our bank accounts, scammers are waiting to take them from us. No, they're not getting into our accounts, but they are getting us to send them money through scams that target our emotions.
A group of state attorneys general says they have recently seen a sharp increase in scams that aim at our hopes and our fears.
"These con artists are really good," said Ohio's Attorney General, Mike DeWine. "Whatever you're interested in, they're interested in. They want to make you feel that you are special, that you are loved."
In the aftermath of Valentine's Day, he says, lonely singles need to be especially careful of the "romance" or "sweetheart" scam that targets people looking for love.
"Kathy" (not her real name) says that last fall she met and man she thought was a handsome soldier. in reality, he was a foreign con artist after her money.
"I was the love of his life, and he knew that God had sent me into his life for a reason," she says. She fell for him fast, until he said he needed money.
"During the entire time you are talking with this new person, you've never been able to meet them, because they're overseas," says AG DeWine. "They're in the military. They're in the diplomatic corps. There's always some reason this person can't meet you."
DeWine says the most common scam that many people are falling for is a phone call from a phony IRS or FBI agent.
"They use the IRS, sometimes they say they are from the FBI. We've even had a case where they said they were from the attorney general's office, or they were the attorney general.
And it's always a threat of arrest or a lawsuit," he said. They say you owe the government money and will be arrested if you don't wire it immediately.
DeWine wants everyone to be aware of both scams, saying when your hopes and fears are involved, it's so easy to become their next victim, "They are really good at what they do, at stealing people's money and breaking their hearts," DeWine said.
Bottom line: watch for scams that hit you in the heartstrings.
Never send money to someone you have never met. And remember that no government agency will call you demanding money immediately. That way you Don't Waste Your Money.