TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - These days it’s more and more common to find your next relationship online.
Marcos Moreno is already happily married, but several social media profiles show otherwise.
"I have friends that will say like hey look, they're using your picture or hey look, they're using your name again," Moreno said.
Morenos' photos have been used to create fake accounts for dating scams since 2014, a whole 32 times.
At first he thought it was a prank, until a victim tracked the real him down.
"Somehow or another she found my phone and wanted to know hey can we meet? That's when I had to do the back story and found out," Moreno said.
Typing sweet nothings to those who will listen, these scammers use Moreno's military background to their advantage to get cash from the most vulnerable.
They go as far as to call themselves honest and trustworthy on their social media profiles.
"How they fell in love with the illusion of somebody in the military, and the fact that they lost over $3,000 because they had to pay for this person's flight to come back - and were actually at the airport waiting for the service-member when they got a phone call that something had happened," he said.
Stories like the ones Moreno has to share happen all the time. The Better Business Bureau says these people looking for love have lost up to a billion dollars over the last few years to the scams and those are just the ones reported.
It's why he decided to speak out.
Some victims he has spoken with don’t believe him, “They’ll go back to the person claiming to be me and they’ll come up with some bogus like that I’m the twin, the evil twin, or I’m just a scammer myself.” However, he said he’ll keep spreading the word to keep others safe from the lies.
One word of advice he recommends - if you can’t physically see them at your local coffee shop, it’s time to get skeptical.
The Better Business Bureau also has these tips for online dating:
- Vet the profile thoroughly. If someone is really interested in finding their special someone, they will probably fill out all sections of their profile – scammers won’t usually waste their time. Other red flags are “model” photos or “suggestive” photos.
- Ask Questions. If they can’t answer basic questions, respond with short answers or get angry if you ask them if they are legitimate – block that profile and report it to the website.
- Never provide address, place of business, email address or phone number until you’ve met them in person at a public place.
- Are they asking for a loan or that you set up a checking account for them? That’s a huge red flag. No longer engage in communication – even if they use the famous “military” ploy.