Online dating scams target thousands of women

May 11, 2014 7:28:58 AM PDT
They think they're communicating with honest men who have ended up in a jam.

Instead, thousands of women are being lured into online dating scams. The result is money lost, and a lot of embarrassment.

A soldier on duty. Travel photos. Pictures with family. All photos you might see on social media sites.

Fraudsters steal photos like these and then, pretending to be the people in the pictures, post them on internet dating sites where they troll for women.

"Often time the fraudsters will look for photos of men in the military and they will play on the sympathies of the women they have for people in the armed forces," said Adam Latham, US Postal inspector.

"The typical victim that we've uncovered is middle aged divorced woman in the U.S.," Latham said. "They use stolen credit cards to send flowers, teddy bears, chocolates. They literally groom them over months at a time, they chat with them for hours a day."

After gaining their trust, the scheme begins.

"They are told there is a financial emergency, their credit cards don't work overseas or there is some kind of business emergency and they are told to send money," Latham said. "The women were typically told to send several hundred dollars at a time. That is a convenient amount to send through Western Union or Money Gram."

Many victims send that money only to learn they've been scammed.

Investigators said millions of dollars have been lost in so-called "sweetheart schemes" across the U.S.


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