MoneyConsumer

Actions

Make sure that online valentine isn't setting you up for a costly heartbreaking scam

FBI: Colorado and Wyoming victims lost combined $32 Million in last four months
Make sure that online valentine isn't setting you up for a costly heartbreaking scam
Posted at 5:15 AM, Feb 15, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — In the wake of Valentine's Day, it's that time of year when some singles turn to dating apps or websites looking for love. Unfortunately some of the people lurking in these spaces are only looking for an opportunity to take your money. News5 has this important warning about romance scams.

For several years we've heard stories of people, mainly senior citizens, losing money by getting caught up in an online relationship with someone they've never actually met in-person.

Fast forward to today, we're seeing a growing number of people 18 to 29 who are also falling victim to these scams and are losing hundreds of dollars in the process.

Not every online interaction is a scam, but we wanted to provide consumers with a few red flags to look out for if you're searching for love online, so you don't get ripped off.

"He was so into me, it was really cool and we talked for hours on the phone," said Sam, a Colorado woman who thought she found love online.

In the classic romance scam, crooks aim to take advantage of people looking for love online in order to steal their money and personal information. The scammers chat with their victims on a dating app or social media, then spend time building their trust before asking for money.

Sam says she believes she was being groomed by a scammer who could never meet in person.

"I asked him, you know, would you like to meet, just, you know, for a quick, a quick meet in person. And he was very offended that I had suggested this, because he had such a busy schedule to get on his international flight. So I thought, Okay, this is pretty clearly not a real thing," said Sam.

According to a newly released FBI report, more than 200 people in Colorado and Wyoming have fallen prey to the romance scam, losing over $32 Million during the last four months.

This is happening to both men and women.

Steve Belcher lives in Colorado and says he dished out his life savings of $1.6 Million in November after meeting a woman on a dating app. She convinced him to invest his money in a fraudulent cryptocurrency app.

"It's devastating. I mean, emotionally, physically, there was days that I didn't want to get out of bed. I mean, it's just draining," said Belcher.

News5 spoke with Colorado's attorney general who says romance scams are reported to his office often, but usually the damage has been done.

"If you start having someone courting you online and the next thing you know they are asking for money in any shape or form, please hold onto your wallets and be nervous. I've known people who have lost tens of thousands of dollars in these romance scams," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Many dating websites, apps, and social media platforms have ways to report these scams so they can disable fake profiles. It's important to report your experience if something feels off to make sure others aren't targeted by the same scammer.

Here are some other agencies that are tracking the impact of romance scams that are asking people to report their experiences...

Federal Trade Commission:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams

FBI:
https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams

Stop Fraud Colorado:
https://www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/