AURORA, IL — Internet scams have been on the rise in recent years, and a newer one preys on victims by manipulating a universal struggle: the need for love. Online dating scams, or “romance scams,” have recently hit the western suburbs, costing a Downers Grove woman thousands of dollars, according to police, and causing an Aurora woman to lose her home, according to ABC 7.
Promises of love cost Aurora woman $250,000
Laura Bockus, the Aurora resident, reportedly lost $250,000 after falling in love with a man on a dating site. Bockus told ABC 7 that the man, who used the name “Richard,” wooed her with love letters, terms of endearment, and promises to move to Florida together before slowly swindling her out of money.
“Richard” reportedly asked for “small amounts, you know, like $2,000 or $3,000” at first, Bockus told ABC 7. He then slowly increased the amount of money he requested, one time asking for $50,000.
Bockus sent the money via wire transfers and gift cards. She says “Richard” sent her a photo showing a bank account with a million dollars in it and promised to make her a beneficiary once he got to the United States.
Bockus ultimately had to sell her house, according to ABC 7.
“Romance” scam reported in Downers Grove
A similar incident was recently reported in Downers Grove. The victim told police that she met a man on Tinder in February who convinced her to open a bank account and share the information with him.
The man then reportedly deposited $5,000 in the bank account and asked the woman to use the money to send a $2,200 MoneyGram to someone with a different name in Poland. The woman complied and was later asked to send more MoneyGrams to Poland and Dubai.
After the woman sent a total of $6,800, she told police that the man blocked her phone number and social media accounts.
The victim was charged more than $800 in fees by her credit union after the man’s initial deposit came back unauthorized, police said. The credit union reportedly told her she had to file a police report or pay back the $7,600.
Tips For Spotting, Preventing Online Dating Scams
The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following tips for protecting yourself from becoming a victim of an online dating scam. They say these signs could indicate you’re dealing with a scam artist:
- Immediately proclaims they are in love
- Wants to leave dating site quickly and interact on social media/by phone
- Says they are from the U.S. but traveling or working abroad
- Plans a visit to the U.S., but is unexpectedly unable due to an emergency
If you notice these signs, the FTC recommends not to send money requested for:
- Medical bills
- Travel expenses
- Visas or other official documents
- Hotel costs
- Hospital bills for a child or other relatives
- Losses due to a temporary financial setback
According to the FTC, “one request leads to another” and those who use online dating sites should avoid making online purchases for or forwarding packages to people met in potential “romance scams.”
If you believe you have been the victim of an online dating scam, FTC says you should immediately report the incident to:
Read more via ABC 7