I-TEAM: ‘They pull on the heartstrings;’ Scammers targeting people on Valentine’s Day

MIAMI VALLEY — It’s Valentine’s Day but scammers are targeting people’s hearts and wallets.

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While everybody is thinking about love today, scammers are hoping to prey on hopeless romantics looking to take their money.

News Center 7 Consumer Reporter Xavier Hershovitz says people are losing a lot of money to these scams.

He is breaking it down in Clark County LIVE on News Center 7′s Daybreak.

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Hershovitz says these scammers not only prey on people’s wallets but also their hearts.

35 Ohioans reported romance scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s office in 2022 and lost nearly $2 million, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Securities.

The Federal Trade Commission says 70,000 victims lost nearly $1.5 billion to these romance scams.

Hershovitz says because this is such a personal crime, they believe romance scams are under-reported and those numbers are likely higher.

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A woman fell victim to one scam. She described how convincing the scammer was and romantically tied she became to that person.

“He basically said, ‘Oh yeah, I know how it could seem like it’s like that. I see where they’re coming from. But you know what, honey? It’s not that we know what we are to each other,’” said Rebecca D’Antonio. “When my scam actually ended, I still didn’t know I had been scammed. I thought that it was just some lone (jerk) that had taken extreme advantage of me.”

She lost thousands of dollars and got into a tough financial situation trying to help the person.

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Hershovitz says there are ways to avoid being scammed.

  • Be cautious of love-bombing.
  • Don’t send money to anyone you’ve only met online.
  • Be cautious if you just lost a loved one.

Scammers often study obituaries to find people who recently suffered a loss.

“They’re taught to do all the research. So, anything you have available online, they’re going to grab it,” said Tammy Mizer, FBI Special Agent. “They pull on the heartstrings. So, every opportunity they have and Valentine’s Day is certainly a time when people, you know, maybe feel more lonely than usual or wish they were, you know, in a relationship with someone.”

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Hershovitz also says that loved ones play an important role in preventing these romance scams because many victims don’t realize what’s happened to them until it’s too late.

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