DENVER -- Valentine’s Day is known for love, but now scammers are trying to take advantage.
The Better Business Bureau reported consumers spent $19 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2015 so scammers are trying to cash in on the business.
“They try and pull at your heartstrings. They know what you’re going to buy,” said Erin O’Neill with the BBB of Colorado.
Flowers, one of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts, are often a target. The Federal Trade Commission has even coined a term for flower scammers by labeling them as “petal pushers.”
Last-minute flower shoppers often buy online instead of in local shops. Small-business owner Dore Huss, owner of Stems Flower Shop in Evergreen, said that is a big mistake.
“It’s like getting the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and now you have to bake them all,” Huss said.
When you order online, the flowers don’t arrive as an arrangement. The person receiving them has to take them out of the box and arrange the flowers themselves, which can be an unpleasant experience. Customers also often complain the bouquets arrive dead, dying or missing flowers.
“You should call a florist who is local, who actually has a physical address in that town,” Huss said.
The same rule goes for jewelry, especially diamonds.
“They can be $18 for a really tiny one to millions and millions,” said jeweler Kellie Alkayam of Daniel’s Diamonds in Evergreen.
Some scammers might charge a customer lots of money for a diamond that is really worth much less.
“You could end up with a stone that maybe isn’t well cut or a stone that isn’t the best quality,” Alkayam said.
In extreme cases, you could even end up with a fake.
“Look at it through magnification. Most diamonds have something in them that’s natural, that was formed in nature and cubic zirconia’s don’t,” Alkayam said.
The best way to avoid a diamond scam is to buy from a trusted jeweler and to only buy certified diamonds.
The biggest scam around Valentine’s Day targets single people who are looking for love online. Colorado’s Bureau of Investigations puts it best with its poem:
“Roses are red.
Daisies are fine.
Do not send money to someone you met online.”
Valentine’s Day scammers know some people are lonely so they pose as a perfect match online, then ask for money for a plane ticket or other personal information, and end up stealing money instead.