In the past year, Union County Deputy Sheriff Rich Crabtree has noticed an uptick in the of people who have been conned in a romance scam. But what worries him even more than the increase is the use of one particular method by scammers: obituaries.
Often, you meet someone online. And before long, they need money. You likely send a small amount at first, and then the situations get more dire, the requests bigger.
Before you know it, your savings is gone. And so is the person you thought was the love of your life. Technology — phone apps such as the encrypted WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — has only made the scams easier.
From the FBI: How to protect yourself. Large sums of money are at stake in the fraudulent dating business. But experts say officially reported s are alarmingly deceiving for a of reasons, not the least of which is that most scams never get reported because people are embarrassed by what happened to them, said Tim McGuinness, who founded a nonprofit organization called Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams SCARS. SCARS operates in the arena of crime prevention but also is devoted to helping victims of these scams reclaim their lives, he said.
You cannot intellectualize your way out of danger. Once the manipulation has taken hold, even if you see the red flags you will ignore them. What does that mean?
How it worked: Columbus man ple guilty to money laundering as part of online romance scam. After her husband died inthe lost and lonely widow soon met a man online. Her situation was rare, however, because the scam ended when the man, whom she had met on a Christian dating site, actually revealed himself to her over a video.
The former Air Force intelligence officer and investment banker was wrecked, both emotionally and financially. And they would give anything to be loved. The story of Ohio's infamous 'Sweetheart Swindler': She picked pockets and stole souls. Crabtree said that many of his cases are calls from friends or relatives concerned about a loved one. So paying attention to those who may be most vulnerable — the elderly, the isolated, those who have suffered a recent loss — goes along way.
Then they move the conversation to a different platform, such as WhatsApp. Crabtree said that messaging applications trend toward younger folks, so if, say, someone is worried that Grandma might be being scammed, check for that app on her phone because a scammer likely told her to download it to make communication easier.
Online dating has experienced an upswing in the last year especially during the pandemicbut that means there is more opportunity for fraud and 'romance scams. Review bank records for suspicious activity, Crabtree said. And, if necessary, do a little sleuthing yourself. Most scammers are part of organized groups and essentially use playbooks, so the same personal story is told over and over again, he said.
Johnson, who has written a book and devotes her life now to helping women either avoid being scammed or to recover from one, understands that. I have fundamentally become a better person since what he put me through. Facebook Twitter.
Technology has made online 'sweetheart scams' easier than ever. Holly Zachariah The Columbus Dispatch.