Beware of romance scammers

Beware of romance scammers »Play Video
Valentine's Day is just a couple weeks away and overseas scammers are turning up the heat with sweet talk and romance. You may notice a spike in spam promoting singles and dating websites. The scams are so devastating the federal government has online alerts.

If you're using the Internet to find romance, take everything you're being told with a grain of salt. And if the other person in your online relationship fits the following description, you're likely be the target of an overseas fraud:

• Only communicates through email, instant message and cell phone.
• Is never able to physically meet you in person.
• Charming, understanding, flattering, sensitive, caring.
• Has a career or life circumstances that takes him or her overseas.
• Is quick to develop the relationship and talk of love.
• Has a young child, typically a boy or girl between the ages of 5 and 12.
• Has a sudden emergency, often involving the child's health.
• Has a reason they cannot get their money and needs your help.
• If you help them once, they need more money of a greater amount.
• If you have no money, they find a "client" who can send you money orders, with instructions to wire the money to them. (The checks are counterfeit.)

Singles of all ages, backgrounds and education levels get roped in online with all the right words. The scammers scour singles and dating websites looking for people who fit the profile of someone who is trusting, caring and compassionate and most of all interested in sharing their life with someone

The con artists pretend to share the same values and say whatever is necessary to gain trust. If the victim mentions being a Christian- the scammers talk of the Bible and their strong faith in God. They do whatever it takes- and often work several victims at once, apparently working off notes to keep track of who they're talking to.

The photos they post of themselves are often stolen from modeling agencies and social network sites. The person in the photos usually has no idea their picture is being used for fraud. When the scammers send gifts to their "sweethearts," the roses, flowers and other items are often purchased with stolen credit card numbers.

No matter how scam-proof you think you are, don't be fooled. Romance scams trick thousands of men and women every year. They generate millions of dollars for the scammers, and the scammers are rarely prosecuted, because they're in another country where American investigators have no authority and get little or no cooperation with the foreign governments.

Warnings are now featured on federal government websites, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Defense and even the U.S. Military.

One local victim who got taken, is being forced to pay back 7 thousand dollars to her credit union because the money orders check cashed trying to help her "sweetheart" were bogus. She didn't find out until after the money orders were cashed and the money was wired overseas.

A Minnesota woman who lost $10,000 has started a romance scam victims support website to help fellow victims deal with the emotional aftermath.

A New Jersey widower who got into an online relationship after his wife died- was scammed out of $300,000. He was so distraught he killed himself.

So regardless of how much you think your online sweetheart loves you, put on the brakes at the first mention of money.

For more information:

Internet Dating and Romance Scams

Criminals Use Romance, Patriotism to Steal Money

CID warns of Internet romance scams