Rip-Off Alert | Crooks using online dating sites to scam those looking for love
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers are creating fake online profiles and using photos of other people in an effort to steal your money. One man thought he found a future wife, only to learn he was at the heart of a rip-off.
Phillip Lowery met a woman on an online dating site when they began texting.
"We texted each other for probably about three months, learning about each other, and she was looking to come to America and I was looking for someone to come to America," said Lowery.
The woman lived in Ghana and after several months, they decided they would get married.
He began sending her money for visas, passports, and clearance fees when she said she became sick.
"She has a problem with malaria and she's having kidney problems, so I had to pay for a transplant," said Lowery.
After he sent the money, he had problems getting in touch with her.
"He then tried reaching out to her and she stopped returning his emails, stopped returning his phone calls," said U.S. Postal Inspector Augustus Magee.
Postal inspectors call this a romance scam where conmen pose on dating sites to lure in victims.
In all, Lowery sent more than $250,000, but the scam didn't end there.
"He had received several phone calls claiming that he had won the lottery," said Magee.
Inspectors say it is common for conmen to often share victims' information.
"If they have your personal information, if they have your cell phone number, they may call you again trying to get you involved in some additional scam," said Magee.
Lowery lost even more money until postal inspectors in Baton Rouge, La. were tipped off by the number of priority envelopes he was sending out. Postal inspectors say Lowery learned a valuable lesson.
"Be very cautious about these dating sites for one. And don't give out any of your personal information and you want to meet that person in person," said Magee.
According to postal inspectors, consumers need to remember they are talking to a stranger unless they verify their identity. Many dating sites recommend communicating through their site so no personal information is exchanged.