ARCHER LODGE – A Johnston County woman recently lost $20,000 in an online romance scam. The victim said she was on a dating site and met a man claiming to be a doctor for the United Nations and Red Cross. They communicated for several days.
The fraudster claimed he was working in Turkey for the Red Cross and needed money to help with expenses he had accumulated. The scammer convinced her to send $20,000.
After the money was received, the scammer contacted the 46 year-old victim again, this time claiming she had wired money to a terrorist and if she didn’t send $27,000 they would report her to authorities. The victim did not send the $27,000. Instead she reported the scam to law enforcement.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance scams cost victims $304 million in 2020, a 50 percent increase from 2019. Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, strike up a relationship with their targets, then work to build their trust by talking or chatting with them several times a day. Then they make up a story and ask for money.
The FTC says romance scammers often say they are living or traveling outside the United States, and frequently create fake profiles indicating they are in the military or are a doctor with an international organization. The scammers ask their targets for money to pay for plane tickets or travel expenses, surgery or medical needs, customs fees, debts, or for a visa or other travel documents.
If you suspect a romance scam, stop communicating with the person immediately, talk to someone you trust, and report it to the FTC or your local authorities. Also, the FTC recommends to notify the website or app where you met the scammer.