Looking for Love: The romance scam

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love.

Scammers are creating fake profiles to steal money. A man who thought he found his future wife only to learn he was at the heart of a scam that cost him thousands of dollars.

Phillip Lowery said, “We texted each other for probably about three months, learning about each other and she was looking to come to America and I was looking for someone to come to America."

Lowery met a woman on an online dating site when they began texting. She lived in Ghana and after several months they decided they would get married. He began sending money for Visas, passports, and clearance fees when she said she became sick.

"She has a problem with malaria and she's having kidney problems, so I had to pay for a transplant," he said.

After he sent the money US Postal Inspector Augustus Magee said, “He then tried reaching out to her and she stopped returning his emails, stopped returning his phone calls."

Postal inspectors called it a romance scam where conmen pose on dating sites to lure in victims. In all, Lowery sent more than $250,000. But the scam didn't end there.

"He had received several phone calls claiming that he had won the lottery,” said Magee.

Inspectors said that was common. Conmen often share victims’ information. Lowery was told he won 4 million dollars, all he needed to do was pay the fees. He lost even more money until postal inspectors were tipped off by the amount of priority envelopes he was sending out. Postal inspectors said Lowery learned a valuable lesson.

"Be very cautious about these dating sites for one. And don't give out any of your personal information and you want to meet that person in person,” said Magee.

Dating scams are common. Postal inspectors said people should remember they're talking to a stranger unless they verify their identity. Many dating sites recommend communicating only through their sites so no personal information is exchanged during the online courtship.

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