CHICAGO (CBS) — Millions of Americans rest their fate of finding a partner on online dating websites.
With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, the FBI is warning people who are looking for love not to fall victim to any Romance Scams.
Scammers find their victims online, whether through a social networking site, a dating site or some other online tool. They target the lonely and vulnerable, making it seem as though there is love in the air. WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.
The main target of these scams? 40-60 year old women are the main targets of Romance Scammers, according to FBI Special Agent Garrett Croon.
“You meet someone online or in a chat room, when you feel like there is a relationship that is built up over time,” Croon said. “That person you meet may even give you gifts or flowers, and make you feel really good. And then it happens. Then that person asks you for money.”
Croon said if you become a victim, do not expect to see your money again or the culprit that scammed you. It’s next to impossible to ever get that money back or even for law enforcement to track down who’s responsible. That’s, in large part he says, because the money is typically wired to another country and sent to aliases and false bank accounts.
“In 2015 the average loss in Illinois was just over $4-million to romance scams,” Croon said. “On a national average, the loss was just over $203-million.”
And those numbers are based off of reported scams.
Croon said many times, victims are too ashamed to report they’ve been victimized.
Despite that, the FBI encourages anyone who is scammed to report it to the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center: IC3.gov.