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Online Romance Scams Continue To Grow

POSTED: 4:16 pm CDT May 19, 2006
UPDATED: 5:46 pm CDT May 19, 2006

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One group is warning about romance scams online.

KMBC's Jim Flink reported that a Yahoo Group has 3,100 members, and hundreds of them have fallen for a romance scam. The group has lost millions of dollars.

One romance scam victim is Sally Schrock. She said her nightmare began in March when she met Anthony online. Within weeks, he was sending her gifts.

Meanwhile, Schrock was taking care of her sick mother and became consumed in the online relationship.

"While I was chatting on line with him, (my mother) had a heart attack and died. I blame him for that," Schrock said.

She said Anthony took advantage of her grief to "weasel money out of me."

"My scammer asked me for my Social Security number, and he even wanted my e-mail password," Schrock said.

Schrock said she wants to warn others to be aware of who they're talking to online.

"For God's sake, don't assume anything," she said.

Experts said online romance scams continue to grow exponentially. A book was recently published about online dating scams, called Cyber Love's Illusions.

"We have people who've been arrested, led off in handcuffs. One's even doing a jail term," Barb Sluppick said.

The online romance scams group attempts to expose the scammers, tracking their IP addresses to Nigeria, Kosovo and Russia.

Online moderator Rhonda McGregor has become an expert at identifying the cons.

"There's a whole list of things -- poor grammar, they avoid answering personal questions, but will ask you a lot of questions," McGregor said.

She said the scammers find potential victims in online dating sites, then whisk them away to more private sites to lay a trap, hoping to get the victims to send cash or personal information.

"That's how the scammers work. They set it up so everything traces back to you," McGregor said.

She said the scammers are cunning and persistent, and have even infiltrated the groups that are targeting them.

"Scammers are getting bolder. They're even talking to people in the group," Sluppick said.

Flink reported that no one seems able to stop the scams and that police and the FBI can't keep up.

On The Web

  • Romance Scams
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  • Looks Too Good To Be True

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