CBS-- Romance scams make up the largest online financial crime losses.
I know what you're thinking, “who falls for that”? Let's show you: the FBI says the dating profile of a victim is between 18 and 99, well-educated with emotional vulnerability.
The description matches a lot of us. If you're dating, you’re emotionally vulnerable. And the scammers are experts.
“I thought, oh that's safe, I can do it from my home." Debbie signed up for an online dating service. She met a Canadian businessman. They messaged and talked on the phone, building a relationship for about 2 years.
She would send money here and there for different things. And then, her online love interest came clean, revealing who he really was. A young man from Nigeria.
Now, this is where you might be saying, “she should have known this wasn't real and that this was all about money”. But FBI investigators say the scammers know how to build trust over time.
“After a relationship is established a scammer will send gifts – poetry, flowers and then make some long-term plans, such as going on a lavish vacation or marriage proposals.”
The experts say a big money ask usually comes around Valentine's Day.
The online love interests are supposed to finally meet that day and the scammer will call and say the flight is delayed or cancelled and they need money to come see them.