BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a problem that's becoming more common as the online dating craze becomes more popular--women, and men getting taken advantage of for money.
It recently happened to a 62-year-old Blasdell woman.
After her last boyfriend passed away unexpectedly, Deborah decided to give online dating a shot. Using the dating app Zoosk, she set up a profile. Deborah says a man by the name of Luis contacted her, and wanted to start chatting. It wasn't long before the so called Army General was sending lengthy text messages and e-mails professing his love.
"It's kind of what got me hooked," she said. "I thought he was really interested."
Deborah says everything was great, until Luis asked her for money. He said when he got out of the Army at the end of December, he was going to come move in with her, but wanted to send her a package containing gold bars, which he received as a gift while in the Army.
Luis told Deborah the gold bars would come via a courier, and the money needed to be transferred to get the bars out of customs at the airport. Luis, and the "courier" who were communicating with Deborah asked for $4,800. She went to get her money but her bank declined the transfer, telling her it was a romance scam.
"I just worry now that he knows my address and for my safety," she said.
The Better Business Bureau estimates there are more than a million victims to romance scams in the United States and Canada over the last three years. The BBB says scammers use techniques like "grooming" to make the victim trust them.
Deborah says she feels silly that she almost fell for this scam, and says she feels heartbroken knowing someone could betray her trust.
"I feel like such a fool. It's fine to communicate, but when the issue of money comes up that's a big flag and now I know that. Guys see us out there as alone and single and vulnerable. I never want anyone to go through this. This totally broke my heart."