Those in a position to help quash this fraud, meanwhile, treat it like “a small brush fire, when actually it is a raging forest fire,” said Dr.
The internet has revolutionized the world of dating, but it is also a new breeding ground for scams. One way to check is to do a reverse image search on Google. It will allow you to either upload the profile photo or paste it directly from the web site.
The victims reported collective losses of .4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.
About 70% of the victims were female; more than half were women 40 years or older.
The scammers may just have lit upon the perfect crime: They sit at computers safely overseas, hunting for their prey on social networks, and they rarely get caught.
The victims are often left deeply damaged ― both financially and psychologically ― and so embarrassed that they’re reluctant to come forward even when they realize they’ve been scammed. Jones is a victim too: His name and photos were stolen to create the fake identities used in romance scams.
But as he continued to push for money, Best realized something was off. but who says they're stuck outside of the country and in need of money is a popular ploy among scammers. Some even claim they need money for medical expenses from combat injuries. "We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the Internet and claim to be in the U. military," Chris Grey, the Army CID's spokesman said in a statement.
She searched Web forums, eventually finding another woman's story of a scammer with the same name. Mingle2, the dating site, did not respond to requests for comment. And in recent months, the International Crime Complaint Center has warned of a new dating extortion scam where scammers bait members of online dating sites into intimate conversations, then threaten to expose them if they don't pay up.
Then one day he called saying he went to Nigeria to buy more, but he was stuck -- he asked her for ,000 cash to get his purchases back to the States. "I was pretty upset because I felt so excited that I thought that I had met somebody," she said. "He has a child and he's in Afghanistan and he's fighting the terrorists and he's a pilot, and I thought my prayers had been answered," Schuster said. Eventually, Smith asked Schuster to wire him some money to help support his daughter. She had sent him nearly ,000 before she finally realized the whole thing was a scam."I left my heart out there, and this guy took advantage of it," the 51-year old Best said.In 2011, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints from victims of so-called "romance scammers" -- criminals who scan online dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites for potential victims. Suddenly, you and your new online beau have an "uncanny" connection. Be careful about how much you reveal about yourself online.