BBB hears about a lot of scams, but this one is an important cautionary tale for this Valentines Day.
Pat is a small business owner who widowed 3 years ago. She met a gentleman on an Internet dating site, and they communicated for a couple of weeks before he asked her to go off the site and chat via an instant messaging service. Pat’s online boyfriend told her he was a contractor from Connecticut. They communicated for a few months before he told her he was traveling to Nigeria to build a gas station.
He was in Nigeria a few weeks when he told Pat that his wallet was stolen and he needed money. By this time, Pat said she was already hooked on the relationship. Her new romance came off as very caring and sincere and he showered her with compliments, which motivated Pat to do anything she could to help him.
“I think it’s easy to fall for somebody and feel like they’re real,” said Pat, who did send money. “He was very romantic. Everything sounded real. And I think that was the hardest thing, to realize that it isn’t. I can see how people would get involved in this because you care about somebody and they do play on your emotions. They have pictures of the person but you don’t know that’s the person. And it would be better to just meet the person face-to-face. When your emotions are involved, you ignore your common sense. You ignore what your head is saying and you just listen to your heart. And I think that was my problem. I shouldn’t have sent the money.”
BBB reminds consumers to:
• Never use a money transfer service to send money to someone you have not met in person.
• Never send money for an emergency situation without verifying that it’s a real emergency; ignore the caller’s plea not to tell others, confirm through other friends and family.
For more information on scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper at bbb.org/scam.