Widow falls victim to romance scam; FBI issues warning | #datingscams | #russianliovescams | #lovescams

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Many people hoping to find true love or simple companionship turn to online dating, but romance scams and confidence schemes have resulted in one of the highest amounts of financial losses when compared to other internet crimes.

Sadly, this kind of fraud affected a widow named Lynn.

Falling in love, and for fraud

Lynn said she was lonely after her husband died and was ready to start dating again. She signed up for Jdate, an online dating site for Jewish singles, and after weeks, she thought she had met her match.

“He started to talk about being in love with me and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and I thought it was very sweet,” Lynn told KTLA.

Hubert was a successful business man from Germany living in Texas. Everything was going great until they tried to meet in person, there was always an excuse.

Then he needed money. A red flag, but Lynn knew they were very much in love. And, of course, he would pay her back.

He made her believe that he had the funds to pay her back, but that he was in a bind at that moment.

Somehow Lynn ignored all the warning signs and her debt began to snowball.

“Then he needed more, and more, and more, until it finally added up to about $120,000,” she said.

It was all a scam. Hubert wasn’t even the man she was talking to. But the person was sophisticated enough to even fake FaceTime videos.

“You want to believe … you wanna have faith, you want to trust,“ Lynn said, adding that in the end, she felt heartbroken and foolish.

Lynn hopes her story will help save others from falling victim to romance scams.

“When they start telling you they love you after a short period of time, hang up the phone, run away,” Lynn said.

How to avoid romance scams

Valentine’s Day is not just a time to celebrate love and friendship, according to the FBI, it also presents opportunities for con artists.

In online romance scams, fraudsters take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating sites, apps or social media by obtaining access to their financial or personal information.

“Romance scams are prevalent, especially during this time of year,” the FBI warned in a news release.

Scammers often use a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. They look to establish a relationship as soon as possible and endear themselves to the victim, officials explained.

Many may even go so far as to propose marriage and make plans to meet in person. They eventually end up asking for money, FBI officials detailed.

To avoid meeting in person, scammers may claim to lie or work in other parts of the U.S. or world. Once they feel like they’re gained enough trust, scammers will request money from them, often for a medical emergency, a legal fee or some other false pretense.

Romance scams and other confidence schemes have led to the highest amounts of financial loses compared to other internet-facilitated crimes, officials said. Around 19,000 victims reported more than $700 million in losses last year, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. In Los Angeles alone, more than $122 million in losses were reported.

“While anyone can fall victim to these schemes, bad actors are known to target women over age 40 who are widowed, divorced, elderly, or disabled,” the FBI warned.

The agency offered the following tips to avoid being scammed and “red flags” to be aware of:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile by searching online to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Beware if the individual seems “too perfect” or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go “offline.”
  • The individual professes love quickly.
  • The individual tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  • The individual makes plans to visit you, but always cancels because of some emergency. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

Anyone who suspects they may have fallen victim to an online relationship scam should stop all contact immediately. Victims can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint center at www.ic3.gov.

Another useful resource for those who believe they might be caught in a scam is Social Catfish, a website dedicated to helping people protect themselves by verifying online relationships through the use of public information.

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