Caller to BBB: “My friends tell me to call you but I don’t know why. About nine months ago, while playing “Words with Friends” on Facebook, I started an email relationship with a very nice man who was an oil company engineer from Boston. He is working in Nigeria now, but in two years he is returning to the U.S. He has been sending me poems, flowers, and candy but I can’t actually see him on Facetime because his phone doesn’t work. We are serious now and I think when he returns to the States we will be married! But recently he told me his daughter is ill and needs surgery. I offered to send him a few thousand dollars to pay for it, but two of my friends insist that this is a scam. They tell me to call BBB. This is just wasting your time; What can you know about our relationship?
BBB says “Don’t send the money!” Despite all the publicity and warnings on media about “catfishing,” many women and men get into fake internet relationships operated by scammers, often from Nigeria and other countries. The FBI says 75% of the victims are women over the age of 50 who are single, divorced or widowed. The biggest red flag is that their lover always has some crisis that ends up with the local victim asked to send money. The average victim of these romance scams ends up losing $25,000, with some losing much more. But victims are often so convinced of their relationship that they refuse to believe the loved one is an illusion. We explained to this caller that she should not send money until she confirmed that the man is legitimate. She insisted we were wrong and hung up.
Before you hire a company or buy, be sure to get a BBB report on the company. Go to www.BBB.org or call (419) 531-3116 or (800) 743-4222.
Source: Dick Eppstein, BBB