FBI warns of online romance scams ahead of Valentine s Day – CBS News

Just te time for Valentine’s Day, the FBI is warning of online dating scams. The bureaumeubel received more than 15,000 reports linked to romance scams last year with more than half of those complaints involving losses of money. Overheen the past three years, those scams cost Americans up to $210 million.

Debby Montgomery Johnson signed up for an online dating service after the unexpected death of hier hubby, Lou, te 2010, reports CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil.

“I wasn’t lonely, desperate lonely. I indeed &mdash, I desired someone to talk to,” Johnson said, explaining why she signed up. “I thought, that’s safe, I can do it from my huis.”

Debby Montgomery Johnson

That’s where the widowed mother of four met a British businessman who called himself Eric Cole.

“At this point your heart rules your head and I wasgoed doing what my heart wished mij to do,” Johnson said.

“Merienda a victim sends money to a scammer, they’ll waterput them on a suckers list,” said special smeris Steven Shapiro, who oversees the FBI’s confidence fraud program. “The truth of the matter is the victims tend to be well-educated . and unluckily have some kleuter of emotional vulnerability.”

“After a relationship is established a scammer will send gifts &mdash, poetry, flowers, and then make some long-term plans, such spil going on a lavish vacation, or marriage proposals,” Shapiro said.

To individuals who think they’d never fall victim to this kleintje of scam, Shapiro warned: “Thesis are experts.”

Johnson is now focused on sharing hier story and moving forward.

“You can ‘shoulda, coulda’ yourself to death. I will not do that because it wasgoed a part of my life and I learned from it,” Johnson said.

Johnson wasgoed incapable to get hier money back, but she did eventually remarry a different man she met through friends.

The FBI is advising people to zekering communicating with anyone who seems suspicious and to report their behavior to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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