(CBS) – Valentine’s Day is Wednesday. For some, it’s a chance to discover a new love – or get burned by con artists.
One northwest suburban man thought he found The One, but his online beauty turned out to be a crook. As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, he’s just one of 17,000 people swindled in romance scams.
“That’s her,” Kurt Link says.
He’s referring to an image of a woman identified as “Olga.” Link says he met Olga on an online dating site.
“I believed this person. That’s why I fell for her,” he says.
Olga initially said she was living in Russia. Over the last three months, she professed her love through numerous emails, saying things like, “I love you with all heart” and “We shall be together forever.”
She was supposed to meet Link at the airport but never showed up. This was after he had wired Olga $7,500.
Anti-fraud experts advise against giving money to people met on websites. Another warning sign is when they ask you to leave the dating site so they can email you privately. To protect yourself, officials says Google their profile photograph. Chances are, you’ll discover the picture is all over the Internet.
“It was so real. I can understand why people fall for this,” Link says.
At one point, he received an email from the American Embassy in Moscow saying no one named Olga had applied for a Visa and they suspected Link was the victim of a scam.
Link has filed complaints with numerous agencies, including the FBI.