12 Scams of Christmas: Romance scams | #datingscams | #lovescams

TULSA, Okla. — The Federal Trade Commission reports romance scam victims lost what it calls “a staggering” $1.3 billion dollars to these schemes in the past five years.

That’s more than in any other FTC fraud category.

The scheme seems so innocent in the beginning. Victims strike up a relationship with someone online, or on social media.

Debbie Jackson says she was approached by a man claiming he was a 4-star general stationed overseas.

“I’ve had so many people try to catfish me,” she said. “Pretending like they’re someone else.”

Women and men can fall for those crooks pulling on their heartstrings. One victim that didn’t want to be identified shared what happened turn during a five-year relationship that started on a dating site — he lost $15,000 to a woman who eventually asked him to be a go between for her artwork. It turned out to be a money laundering operation.

“It’s hard, I lost the money, it messed up everything in a financial way for me, trying to build my credit back, so much that was screwed up for me.”

The federal trade commission and FBI say scammers tell all kinds of lies, to get into their victims’ lives.

So what are some signs of a romance scam?

  • someone professes love quickly.
  • they claim to be overseas for business or military service.
  • they ask for money and may lure you off your social media or dating site.
  • they claim to need money for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel.
  • they plan to visit, but can’t because of an emergency.

The stories, FBI Special Agent Keith Custer warns, are endless. “They’re very expert in identifying what levers there are that would move a person, whether it’s hope or greed or fear and then they manipulate that.”

Scammers know millions of people use online dating and social media sites.

They are there, as well, hiding behind fake profiles, pouncing on victims like Debbie Jackson, who wants to warn others, too, before their bank account, their trust, and their heart, are broken.

“I don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”

If you or a friend or loved one is involved in an online relationship, it’s important to slow down and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you. And never transfer or wire money from your bank account or buy gift cards for your online romance. It’s nearly impossible to get that money back once you realize you’re the latest victim of a con artist.

Contact the Problem Solvers:

  • 918-748-1502
  • problemsolvers@kjrh.com

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