Western Union received at least 44,500 complaints about online dating and romance scams, with losses totaling at least million, between 20, the FTC’s Todd Kossow says.
Amy Nofziger, regional director of the AARP Foundation, explained how a romance scam works: The scammer will often say he or she is from the United States, but is traveling or working overseas, and will quickly profess his or her love for you.
FBI: File a complaint at Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you’ve wired money to a scammer: Both Western Union and Money Gram have websites with information on filing complaints.
Western Union agreed in January 2016 to a 6 million settlement with the FTC over allegations of looking the other way and allowing fraud and money laundering.
Your love interest may be an impostor How can you protect yourself? Experts warn that the scammers usually want you to immediately leave the online dating website, and instead communicate by email, phone or instant message.Don’t disclose your last name, your address, your place of work or other personal details until you meet your love interest in person. You also can copy portions of emails a love interest has sent and use an online search engine to see if the text appears elsewhere, because many scammers work off scripts, Nofziger says.Also, copy his or her photo and do an image search to see if anyone else shows up with that photo, Nofziger says.Other tricks include getting you to smuggle drugs or launder money unknowingly.For example, Joseph Byron Martin, a 77-year-old retired pastor in Maine, was released from a Spanish prison in 2016.