TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) – The FBI has seen an increase in what’s being called “romance scams” in recent years, including right here in Arizona.
The scam involves someone using a fake identity online in order to gain the affection of someone else and making them believe they are in a real relationship. Then, the scammer uses the illusion of that relationship to steal from the victim.
“A lot of times it is individuals who are on dating websites and social media indicating that they are out there ready to meet other people and they end up thinking that they’ve met someone who is interested in them,” Paul Sparke, a Supervising Special Agent with the FBI, said of his office seeing an increase in these types of scams.
“During that communication they will say ‘Hey, I want to come visit you. Can you send me money so I can come visit you?’ Then, for some reason or another, their travel gets pushed off,” he explained.
Last year alone, scammers got away with $25 million thanks to romance scams.
One victim’s family, whose name will be kept private, said the scam is still happening because their family member believes the relationship is legitimate.
“He’s scamming her in a way telling her that he loves her and that he wants to meet her,” this person said. “He’ll say he’s been trying to get ahold of her. Like saying that he’s going to come to Tucson and he’s going to see her at Christmas. But, something always comes up because he’s got an acting gig.”
She said her family member has been talking with this person for more than two years online through Facebook Messenger and believes she’s dating a Hollywood actor.
“She was excited to tell me she was involved with someone,” she said. “What she was saying did not match up. You can Google anybody.”
She added that her family member refuses to believe it’s not a real relationship and continues to wire her mystery man thousands of dollars.
Now, the victim has little to nothing left over for herself, including her home and cars.
Be sure to subscribe to the 13 News YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@13newskold.
Copyright 2023 13 News. All rights reserved.