January 1, 2018

Dating scam hits home

BY ALYSSA MEIER
Editor
Local authorities are warning residents to be cautious of online dating scams after a McLean County woman was conned out of $200,000 last month.
A divorced woman in her 60s fell victim recently to a scam that the Federal Bureau of Investigation said conned Americans out of $230 million in 2016, with the average victim shelling out over $100,000.
“It’s the No. 1 Internet scam right now, when it comes to damages to victims” McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson said Monday, noting that the FBI reported one individual in Mercer County recently losing $500,000 in a similar incident.
Erickson said Monday that a McLean County woman contacted the McLean County Sheriff’s Department in December, concerned that she had been scammed. The woman, who was not identified, had reportedly been sending money to a man she met online for around six months. By the time she contacted authorities, she had wired $200,000 dollars to a suave stranger that Erickson said was likely not a person at all.
“More than likely, she was communicating with an online bank in Russia or Nigeria,” Erickson said.
Erickson said online predators identify vulnerable individuals on dating sites and use sophisticated psychology to bleed them dry.


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