EUGENE, Ore. -- With Valentine's Day fast approaching, many people may be looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right online, but Eugene police are urging the public to avoid being romanced by a common scam.
Janina Rager, a crime prevention specialist with the Eugene Police Department, said they have seen an uptick in online romance scams as the holiday draws near.
Rager said they scammers take advantage of singles through social media and dating websites, posing as the perfect match before asking for money.
"You could have a woman be a man, you could have a man be a woman, you could have a 60-year-old be a 20-year-old," Rager said. "When you are on these websites, you never know who you are talking to."
Rager said if the relationship seems to be moving fast, before you've even met, that can be a red flag. She said scammers often try to move the conversation off dating websites to email and are vague about their location.
Rager said people who fall victim to the scam are not only left heartbroken, but also broke.
"Pretty much, you can't prosecute them. They are not really a crime because you voluntarily gave the person the money," Rager said. They may be lying about who they are, but you voluntarily gave them the money. There is no real crime."
Rager is also urging the public not to share nude photos. She said some scammers will use them to blackmail their victims.