With Valentine’s Day approaching, a certain scam, commonly known as the “Sweetheart Scam,” will kick into gear as it does each February.

Many people who are single like to meet potential dates on dating websites such as eHarmony, Christian Mingle and others.

As with all social networking, it is best to be very careful about what information you reveal about yourself before getting in touch with your prospective date.

Scam artists love to pose as perfect dates on these sites. They find people who are single and create a profile that they know will be appealing. Once email contact is made, they spin a web of lies and do their best to endear the Valentine hopefuls into believing every word.

They will then make an excuse for needing money, and lots of it. Perhaps they will tell you that a friend is in the hospital and cannot afford care. Maybe they will explain that their export business in Dubai needs to pay a big foreign tax to stay afloat. Don’t fall for it.

Fraudsters make their money by pushing our buttons and taking advantage of our trust and good intentions. This February, stay ahead of these schemes and keep your money safe.

If you are on a dating site, take extra care and know that if someone asks you for money – and usually money that must be wired or provided by a credit card – then it is likely to be a scam.

Michael Parent

volunteer, AARP Maine Fraud Watch Network

Portland