Valentine’s Day hopefully gives you a chance to appreciate your loved ones. But if this holiday – also known as “Singles Awareness Day, or SAD” — is nudging you or someone you care about to look for love online, there’s something you should know: Reports of sweetheart scams are soaring, according to several different agencies. Victims lose a lot of money, suffer emotional stress, and in some extreme cases, have landed in jail while chasing their lovers overseas.
Scheming lovers have lied since the beginning of time. But thanks to the Internet, faux Casanovas can make a killing across the country or across the planet, leaving behind a wake of broken hearts and empty bank accounts.
I wrote about Romance Scams last week, but there’s fresh data out from the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau affirming that dating scams continue to be an enormous — and very painful – problem.
This post also serves to let you all know that, after a brief hiatus, I am back writing for the Peacock again. With the recent investment by CNBC into the Acorns app, the stories I used to write for Grow will now be part of CNBC. Please read the full story over at Grow’s website.
Some of the stories about online love gone wrong are truly bizarre. In August 2017, a Missouri woman named Denise Marie Woodrum was arrested traveling through Australia when authorities found a kilo of cocaine hidden in a high-heeled shoe packed in her luggage. Woodrum’s defense: She was traveling to meet a man named Cornelius, her new online lover. The shoes were supposed to be a gift.
“Can you promise you will never leave me?” the 51-year-old, reportedly suffering from serious health-related debt issues, texted her lover. She was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to 7.5 years in jail.
Woodrum’s story highlights a new problem in the world of sweethearts scams: A new Better Business Bureau report says 20-30% aren’t asked for money directly, but are instead recruited to be “mules,” seduced into transporting money or goods across national borders.