Tucson woman warns others after falling victim to romance scam
TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson woman hopes sharing her story of being scammed sends a message to others looking for love online.
The woman, who does not want to be identified, says she is out thousands of dollars and is working to get her name cleared after she says she was tricked into fraud.
The elderly widow says she was chatting with a man for about a year, and at some point, things became romantic.
She says eventually the man told her he deposited money into her account and asked her to buy iTunes cards with the money and then instructed her to send him the codes on the card.
The woman says she realized she had been scammed when her card was declined and her bank said she had fraudulent transactions on her account.
She says her heart sank and she was overcome by emotion and anger upon realizing the relationship was phony. Now she hopes others hear her story so they don't fall victim too.
“I hope he gets caught. I really hope he gets caught. I may not get the money back, and I’ll pay it back as best as I can, but what he’s doing is wrong, and I told him. I was so upset, I told him, ‘Why don’t you be a real man and go out and get a job. Stop scamming women,’" she said.
Her biggest advice to others is to never give money to anyone online no matter how trustworthy they seem. She says she never thought she'd fall for something like this until she did.
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says “catfishing” scams like this are all too common. The organization says that’s the reason why it focuses on researching the specific type of scam.
The BBB says over the past three years, victims in the U.S. and Canada have reported losing $1 billion, and the organization says that could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“We know that there’s more than a million victims in the U.S. that have been reported. However, we know that not a lot of people will report this because it’s an embarrassing thing to happen, so we know that there’s actually more than that," said Susann Miller with the BBB.
Miller says these are some red flags you can look out for:
- Too hot to be true. Scammers offer up good-looking photos and tales of financial success. Be honest with yourself about who would be genuinely interested. If they seem “too perfect,” your alarm bells should ring.
- In a hurry to get off the site. Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to communicating through email, messenger, or phone.
- Moving fast. A catfisher will begin speaking of a future together and tell you they love you quickly. They often say they’ve never felt this way before.
- Talk about trust. Catfishers will start manipulating you with talk about trust and how important it is. This will often be a first step to asking you for money.
- Don’t want to meet. Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone meeting because they say they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.
- Suspect language. If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your home town but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language, or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.
- Hard luck stories. Before moving on to asking you for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles like heat being cut off or a stolen car or a sick relative, or they may share a sad story from their past (death of parents or spouse, etc.).
If you would like to report scams, use the BBB’s scam tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/
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