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Nearly 15,000 people were conned out of more than 0 million in 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And those figures underestimate the severity of the problem because it is believed only 15% of fraud victims report the crimes.
Later, Taylor would sometimes steal the identities of victims to make purchases, transfer funds, open new accounts or use their credit cards, he said.
And don’t be ashamed to ask for help; there’s no reason to be embarrassed.
Unfortunately, seniors are the primary targets for romance scams, since they often spend more time alone as they age.
You can protect yourself from these fraudsters by doing the following: Even though Valentine’s season is one of the key times to be on high alert for possible sweetheart scams, it’s important to realize this is a year-round issue.
"Even in the last decade, so many more people meet other people online for the purpose of dating," said New York attorney Jonathan Hood, who has written extensively on internet fraud. Of course, the best way to tell if the person you are dealing with is real is to meet in person. "If they say, 'I'm not ready to meet you in person,' or 'I want to continue just chatting online,' that could be trouble," Hood said.
"It just makes it so much easier for people to connect without ever meeting in person, and sort of as a result, never really verifying that the other person is who they say they are." In the latest twist, reported on the next episode of CNBC's "American Greed," con artists are exploiting Americans' respect for the military. Moving your relationship from virtual to real is a big step. If you are not yet comfortable meeting your new friend in person, Hood says to at least try to move away from the confines of the dating site by getting their email address or connecting on Facebook. "If you start getting, 'I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that yet,' it doesn't mean that they're a scammer, but in my mind it would raise some red flags," Hood said.