SPRINGFIELD, MO (02/13/18) - With Valentine’s Day tomorrow you might be looking for someone to spend the holiday with but consumers should be wary. Fox 5 has learned that scammers are targeting those looking for love. Online is the most common place these days to search for love. However, scammers are using impersonations, blackmail, and trickery to steal from unsuspecting daters.
“Crooks that post profiles on dating sites and social media they’re going to be pretending to look for somebody for a relationship," says regional director for the Better Business Bureau Stephanie Garland. "And they’re going to be carefully designed to appear that the person is solid.”
The BBB has reported that at any given moment there are 25,000 fraudsters online. Last year, there were 17,000 complaints of romance scams to the FBI.
And one name you might have come across is Olayinka Sunmola. He defrauded at least 30 women in the United States. Collectively, they sent him tens of thousands of dollars after saying he needed it for medical bills or business emergencies.
The Federal Trade Commission says the number of victims doubles every year. Most victims are women between the ages of 40 and 50. But there are ways you can tell if you’re being scammed. Search the text. If you find misspelled words you're more than likely getting scammed.
Other warning signs are if the scammer wants to communicate through personal email, confessed their love quickly, and claim to be a U.S. citizen but are traveling overseas.
“Through google and other apps you can right click on their profile photos and see if that comes up elsewhere with other people’s names, says prosecuting attorney Dan Patterson. "And you can do the same with emails. If someone sends you an email you can figure out what country those emails came from.”
If you’re in a romance scam, Patterson says tell someone you trust, don’t wire money, and make a complaint to the FBI's internet complain center.