Don’t fall for these romance scams on Valentine’s Day

HARRISBURG -- Stealing your heart and your cash.

That`s what some Pennsylvania officials are worried will happen to people this valentine`s day.

"Particularly when we're lonely and vulnerable, we fall victim to a lot of things," said Katrina Boyer, the Consumer Outreach Liaison at the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities.

She says the days before February 14th is prime time for romance scammers.

Think "catfishing," when someone pretends to be someone they`re not on the internet.

The department says there are plenty of scammers who make fake emotional connections with the hope you`ll open your wallet to someone before you even meet.

Boyer says, "They will be contacted by someone who claims to be madly in love with someone very very quickly and then they have an emergency and they need money."

The consumer liaison recommends doing a reverse google image search on the profile pictures of anyone you plan to meet online, just to make sure that person is who they say they are.

"Often if that person is using that photo other places, it will show up and it will show up under other names and that could be a real red flag."

And if you think these scams don't happen in Pennsylvania, Boyer says that's just not true.

The Banking and Securities Department says 372 Pennsylvanians lost more than $6 million from romance fraud in 2015.

Boyer recently spoke with a man who lost thousands of dollars.

"He had sent over $70,000 for a mail order bride. He said I know it's a scam, but I keep sending more money."

This doesn`t mean trying an online dating site is out of the question if you`re looking for love.

Dating sites like Match, eharmony and others all state they try to eliminate catfishing as much as possible.

State officials have some advice when it comes to this: Avoid giving too many personal details about yourself to anyone on the Internet, search for information about people you meet on the Internet on various search engines and never send money or provide financial information to someone you have not met.

"Most of the time you can't get that money back, but consumers do still need to report that."

If you come across someone fishy on the internet asking for cash or you find yourself being a victim of a scam, call 1-800-pa-banks.

state employees there could help see if you've been scammed or what to do if someone has already taken your money.

So what if you already found your special someone and you want to make sure they have a nice Valentine`s day?

Experts in the floral field say - buy now!

We reached out to some of the top selling flower delivery sites for advice.

1800 flowers says you`re likely to get a better deal if you order during the week before the holiday.

Also, if you want to save some cash it will likely be cheaper to have the flowers delivered before or after February 14th.

As for the last possible day to order, both Flowerbud.com and organic bouquet say to order in the morning of February 13th.

Again, this will likely cost you some extra cash because you`ll be paying for overnight delivery.

Here are some of the full resposnes from some of the flower companies:

1-800-flowers:  Shop smart because flowers are all about supply and demanded. Roses, which are most popular around valentine’s day, can be more expensive. Early order and early delivery. Same day delivery is available, but you'll likely pay extra for that.  Valentine's day is a leading holiday for the company and can sometimes be impacted by weather, but 1800 Flowers has a good reputation with consumers to contact them to weather related issues.

Teleflora: l “Due to the high demand for flowers during the Valentine’s Day season, the overall price and demand for flowers increases across the board…especially as you get closer to February 14. To ensure a seamless Valentine’s Day for your sweetheart, we encourage consumers to place their order early! Order before February 12 due to the heightened popularity for flowers and to ensure the best price. Since every Teleflora order is hand-made with love and hand-delivered by a local florist, you can feel good knowing that your Valentine’s Day bouquet arrives ready to enjoy.” – Source: Teleflora

Organic Bouquet:  "Last day for placing an order will be Monday the 13th by 3pm for standard overnight delivery. We have never charged our customers more for Valentines and I don't think we will this year despite rising costs. Flower costs are lower than forecasted this year and UPS/FEDEX are always higher and higher. We balance the two and do our best to support our customers with same quality and price as the rest of the year. We want them to have the same quality, same certified farms and same pricing year round. Occasionally UPS or FedEx lose boxes or fail to deliver. We work with the customer to resolve by reshipping at no charge, crediting the order and sometimes we help them find local florist or place the orders for them.  As far as best time to order? The sooner the better. We run product specials via our emailers and the discounts get smaller and smaller as we get closer to the final ship date. We offer early bird incentives to help us better plan at our farms." (statement from CEO Robert McLaughlin)

Flowerbud.com - All of our prices include shipping and handling, and the price shown is the delivered price – unless you add a vase or would like morning delivery. Orders must be placed by 11 am PST for next day delivery.  Orders will need to be placed by February 13th, before 11am PST. Our flowers are delivered via FedEx, so as long as Mother Nature behaves and FedEx’s fleet is up and running, we should see a 99% delivery rate. I would recommend placing your order this week, earlier is always better.