Romance Scammers Target Online Daters; Florida In Top 3 For Most Victims

Feb 15, 2018
Originally published on February 14, 2018 3:40 pm

Those looking for love online may find a con artist on the other end of their chat window. The FBI in Jacksonville is warning of scams targeting dating sites.

Women over 50 years old are the most frequent victims of online dating scams, the FBI said.

Last year, the feds received more than 15,000 reports of such fraud, which resulted in victims’ giving up about $210 million.  Florida is one of the top three states for the number of victims of this type of confidence fraud.

Special Agent Christine Beining said criminals are targeting widows and divorced people — those they perceive to be the most lonely.

“They’ll hunt through these various networking sites and they’ll find somebody who may be a good target, and they’ll use what the victim has put on their profile page, so you have to be very careful about what you post because they’ll use that to manipulate the victim,” she said.  

Eventually, once they’ve gained the victims’ trust, these criminals will often request money for a “medical emergency” or “unexpected legal fee.”

Beining said it’s important for victims to know they’re not alone and report it to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center.  

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