TULSA, Okla. — As we count down the 12 scams of Christmas, a scheme that'll cost you thousands and crush your heart.
Romance scams are surging right now.
The 2News Oklahoma Problem Solvers tell us they are some of the highest value scams out there and can be financially and emotionally devastating to victims.
The holiday season, coupled with the pandemic, has many people feeling lonely.
Dating sites help singles connect, but it's not always who you think it is.
"It's like there are claws in you that you can’t seem to get out," says a romance scam victim who didn't want to be identified, but shares how his 5-year relationship ended with him losing $15,000.
"It's hard. I lost the money and it messed up everything in a financial way for me, trying to build my credit back, just so much that that has screwed up for me ."
His better judgment took a back seat when he was asked to be the go-between for a woman's art business.
The FBI later informed him that he was involved in a money-laundering operation.
"That's a huge problem continues to be a problem," says Keith Custer, an FBI agent.
The FBI says romance scams are up 30 to 50 percent. He's warning anyone who's online dating to research the person's photo and profile, such as:
- Start by doing a reverse google image search.
- Look for scammers to make up excuses on why they can't meet in person or video chat.
- Never send money to anyone you don't know personally.
"More people are being isolated and online looking for companionship so naturally that fraud and those scams are going to continue."
If you think you might be a victim of a romance scam, contact your local FBI office or file a report online.
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