Are you looking for love on the Internet? Beware of Potential Scammers, Warns FBI Omaha Office | Local News
Love in the days of COVID can be heartbreaking and financially devastating.
“Online dating scams are especially bad because they hit people where they are most vulnerable,” said Jake Foiles, an FBI special agent who works in the Omaha office. “People think they’ve met someone to spend the rest of their life with, maybe a husband or wife, and then they get ripped off on their savings. “
In 2020, romance scams accounted for $ 607 million in losses in the United States, Foiles said. Nebraska would have lost $ 2,127,000 and the Iowans $ 3,281,000 in losses.
These losses might just be the tip of the iceberg, as many people are too ashamed or embarrassed to report they’ve been cheated, Foiles said. Some people, he said, refuse to acknowledge that they are being played out even when faced with the evidence.
“We spoke to people who will continue the relationship,” he said. “A lot of times they won’t tell their family or friends anything about the online relationship. It is important that they talk to someone if they are suspicious.
Online dating sites are seeing an increase in contacts during the coronavirus pandemic, Foiles said. People are more isolated and have fewer options for meeting others, he said.
“The COVID-19 crisis has made (romance scams) even more prevalent due to the lack of options there,” Foiles said. “You might call it a triple whammy right now because we have COVID-19, the extremely cold weather, and Valentine’s Day all at the same time.”