Scammers prey on women looking for love online costing victims millions of dollars

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports romance scams have cost victims in the U.S. and Canada nearly one billion dollars in just the past three years.

Two years after Linda lost her husband of 43 years she signed onto Match.com. 

"I want to be able to share my life with someone, " she said. The retired teacher, who asked us to hide her identity for this story, met a man named Robert Wilson online last October. 

"We spoke daily from October to April," Linda said. 

Wilson claimed to broker business deals abroad and started complaining that he couldn't access his Swiss bank account. Linda said he showed her the bank account.

He shared a link to what appeared to be a UBS bank account holding more than two million dollars. So Linda transferred $20,000 from her bank into another account in the U.S.

"I had a little nest egg to enjoy the rest of my life with," she said. 

Over the course of eight months Robert Wilson called, emailed and texted Linda daily. He also wiped out her life savings of $200,000. 

Most of us think it could never happen to us. 

"At some point you gotta take some personal responsibility for good decisions," said Amber Shelton.

Sheton said she has tried online dating in the past, but didn't like it.

"I'm just saying. Like nobody I meet online is going to get a penny from me. Like never!"

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Andy Sekela said it really could happen to anyone. 

"Romance scams are among the most significant or common type of internet crimes that we see," Sekela said. 

Nevada is one of the states where you are most likely to be catfished, coming in at number two in the U.S. according to HighSpeedInternet.com, which looked at FBI statistics on the number of dating scam victims by state. 

"Everybody that I met was absolutely either insane or married," Shelton said. "People aren't honest online. I just think it's better to meet people at church or work or any other way."

The same man Linda met also allegedly scammed another woman using a stolen identity. The FBI and Secret Service say they don't have the resources to investigate all of the reports. 

    

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