MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just when you thought you’ve matched online with the future love of your life, sometimes its too good to be true.
Investigators at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said scammers are breaking hearts and bank accounts by gaining your trust only to leave you and take your cash.
Romance scams are more common than some think. The Better Business Bureau estimated 1 million Americans have been victimized in romance fraud in the last three years.
The BBB said people are losing money across the nation by the boat load, reaching into the billion’s dollars mark. TBI said that’s because of how easy it is for some people to lend their trust to online lovers, or unknowingly scammers.
LaNeka Rodger spoke to FOX13 last year after she thought she found love on a dating site.
“He was talking about he wanted to spoil me and give me all the things I wanted.”
LaNeka told us a man reached out to her claiming to be a doctor, working for the US Army in Lebanon. He even sent her flowers at one point in the budding relationship.
Investigators with TBI said scammers are looking to rush people into relationships by gaining your trust first.
“They are basically gaining a rapport with you to try and gain your trust. ”said TBI ASAC Nick Christian
TBI is now warning folks of starting an online romance with someone you haven’t met.
Like in LaNeka’s case, she told us she only talked to guy through messages online and never spoke on the phone.
“Another warning sign is when they don’t contact you on video. But they send you a photo and they actually wont call you on video. It’s a very good indicator that they are not willing to show you proof of life that a normal person would show," explained Christian.
After gaining her trust, LaNeka’s online lover then asked her to buy him gift cards which is a major red flag according to TBI investigators
“Another good warning sign is if they ask you to send money in an unusual way. They don’t want you to wire money. Send cash, checks or anything like that. If they want, you to send a gift card or something unusual that is obviously an indicator," said Christian.
Thankfully, it all came to an end with LaNeka’s mother got involved called the guy out to be a fraud.
The FBI said people can report fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.