Romance scammers swindle vulnerable Sarasota residents out of millions | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

Carlos R. Munoz

SARASOTA — A devastating internet crime is on the rise in Florida, and it already has claimed close to 1,200 victims who have lost more than $20 million — $1.2 million in Sarasota County.

And it’s grossly under-reported.

Romance scams are just one trick fraudsters use to victimize people — predominantly older widowed or divorced — who are targeted by criminal groups from under-developed countries such as Nigeria. The victims, for the most part, are computer literate and educated but emotionally vulnerable, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which says educating the public is its best defense.

Sarasota County is a prime target because of its wealth and residents whose median age is 56.5.

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