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A new Yahoo group, "Romance Scams," was founded last month by Smalley and Barb Sluppick, who said she almost fell for a similar scam earlier this year.
Among the hundreds of messages posted to the group are photographs of alleged scammers, links to potentially fraudulent online dating ads, and copies of come-on e-mails.
When Theresa Smalley received a note from Richie last January asking if she wanted to chat, she was flattered. The two began exchanging e-mails, friendly at first, but quickly swelling in intensity and passion.
By Valentine's Day, Smalley received a box of chocolate candy, a teddy bear, and a helium balloon that said "I love you." Smalley, 46, was hooked, even though she had never met him.
"A little gift of flowers or candy is a good aphrodisiac," said Miskell. I can't tell you the number of women who have fallen for this." Eventually, the con artists convince their soulmates to do them a big favor — help transfer funds out of the bank.
There have been so many victims that they are starting to find each other online.
Five weeks later, when the bank came calling, all ,000 in Ryan's bank account — most of it from a student loan earmarked for next semester's tuition — was frozen by his bank. She seemed to be into the music I was into." Flowers bought with stolen credit cards Nigerian-based con artists seem to have seized on sweetheart scams of late, said Dale Miskell, supervisory special agent in charge of an FBI cybercrime squad in Birmingham, Ala.
Scam artists post ads to online dating sites and lurk in chat rooms with names like "40 and single," or "Recently dumped." Often, they reach out to a lonely soul with flowers or candy, purchased with a stolen credit card.
Then, Richie was ready to leave the country, but needed money to deal with a visa problem. I had to pay them ,700, which was everything I had," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever known that this is all a part of an elaborate online scam. agencies have issued warnings on the scams, also known as "419" or "advance-fee" frauds.Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables strangers to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices.He spent four months gaining my trust and he did it." So-called Nigerian scams, where victims are ultimately tricked into sending money to the African country using some irreversible method like a wire transfer, are common. But the seductive flavor of this type of the scam — known to some as "sweetheart scams" — and the incredible patience shown by the scammer reveal just how far con artists will go to trick their marks. of Washington state, who asked that his last name be withheld, says he sent ,200 to a similarly seductive scammer. Ryan was approached while hanging out in a chat room devoted to Grateful Dead fans.His seducer also claimed to be an American out of the country getting paid via money order, and also ultimately asked him to cash them. "The thing that duped me was the whole music issue.
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In other cases, the con artists aren't after money -- they are after shipping help. "They say, 'Oh, once you have them, why not just send them?