PLAINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A suburban woman thought she found love online, but the man tugging at her heartstrings ended up swindling her out of more than $100.
And as CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas found out, the woman, Kay, wasn’t the only woman the fraudster courted and conned.
Kay lives alone – almost. She has her cat, Pebbles, but due to health issues, she is mostly confined to her house in Plainfield.
“Very lonely,” she said.
Kay thought she found a cure for that loneliness on Facebook Dating – a pilot named Roberto who was looking for a serious relationship. The scammer fraudulently used a real person’s pictures for his profile.
They messaged for months, and even made plans to meet.
“‘I promise to handle your heart with care and love,'” Roberto wrote.
But their blossoming romance took a turn when Roberto claimed he was in danger overseas and needed money to get back. He even told her, “Please try and get it to me before Monday, my love.”
“I pawned a vintage watch and I sent him money,” Kay said. “I’m on a very limited, limited budget.”
There were a couple more requests amounting to, “You have to do Bitcoin – you’ve got to send me money,” Kay said.
Kay then realized it must be a scam – and a growing one at that.
A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission says social media was far more profitable to scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people.
Scammers raked in at least $770 million last year off fraud originating on social media – three times the 2020 total.
And those are just the people who reported it.
“I’m embarrassed by this that I got suckered in by a scammer,” Kay said.
Kay eventually discovered several other profiles for Roberto with the same pictures – and she even another victim in New Jersey who fell for the same scam.
That woman told us on a call that she lost 2700 dollars to the so-called pilot named Roberto.
McNicholas: “I can’t imagine emotionally how this must have affected you to be strung along like this.”
New Jersey victim: “I’m mad. I’m just mad because like I said, I work every day. I live paycheck to paycheck. There’s no comfort zone.”
Now, both Kay and the New Jersey woman say they’ve logged off Facebook Dating for good.
Experts say those scams are growing because online dating is growing, and more people have been at home online during the pandemic.