Internet romance scams and safety tips

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– It might feel like love at first sight, or swipe.

But, the Better Business Bureau warns it’s a labor of love for scammers.

“The average is about $2,000,” said Regional Director for the Springfield Better Business Bureau Stephanie Garland. “The average in this region is usually somewhere around $10,000.”

Millions of people look to online dating apps or social networks to find love. Unfortunately, more and more find fraud.

“The average victim age is going to be between the ages of 45 to 54, it’s going to be a man and he’s going to be very lonely,” said Garland.

Garland says scammers may spend months grooming their victims, building what the victim believes to be a loving relationship.

“After about six months to a year then there’s going to be a medical emergency,” said Garland. “They’re supposed to have come down but suddenly they had a heart attack or suddenly got deployed elsewhere.”

Complaints filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2018 totaled close to half a billion dollars in financial losses for Americans.

“Just realize that you’re out that money,” said Garland. “It’s a terrible lesson to learn.”

Local law enforcement says there are some red flags to look out for when using online dating apps.

“Sometimes it’s somebody coming on really overly-romantic in the beginning,” said Lieutenant Culley Wilson of the Springfield Police Department.

Wilson says to also be aware of people asking you for money early on.

“Asking for lots of photographs of you when they’ve never met you…that’s a red flag,” said Wilson.

He says to never give out personal information like your address or date of birth.

“If you go and you look and you don’t find the person or you find only one picture or something like that, that’s a little weird,” said Wilson.

Wilson encourages you to vet all potential dating apps or sites before signing up.

The Better Business Bureau encourages anyone who has fallen victim to an internet romance scam to file a report with the BBB.

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