Our partners at WJLA 7 on Your Side in Washington, DC offer a warning about one of the costliest ongoing scams. The story begins with a man who started receiving love letters from women he didn’t know. It turns out an identity thief had stolen his information and was posing as him on various dating sites. The scammer would use the fake identity to get close to women, then ask them for money. The man now has a routine — When he receives a card or a gift from an unknown admirer, he sends a form letter informing them of this “sweetheart scam” and encourages them to contact the FBI. He estimates he has corresponded with 50 victims so far and is confident there are hundreds more. In addition to the victims, he has also alerted the dating sites through which they’ve been contacted, but he says none of the sites have accepted responsibility. FBI representatives report that romance scams cost consumers about $300 million each year, with the average victim losing somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000. These scams are often perpetrated by criminal organizations, rather than individuals. If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of a romance scam, you can contact the FBI through its Internet Crimes Complaint site here.
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