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February 13, 2018 10:02 PM

Sioux Falls Woman Loses 175K To Romance Scammer

Sioux Falls, SD

Romance is in the air, and scammers look to capitalize on that. This Valentine's Day, The Better Business Bureau wants to warn you about romance scams. 

Many of them start on an online dating site. A suspect contacts a single person, sending a loving message. They groom the victim to fall in love with them.  Then they ask for money but make up an excuse so they don't meet in person.  

Love letters from a valentine, that at first felt like the real deal. 

"We talked about family, what he wanted for the rest of his life," the romance scam victim said. 

But the match made on Match.com turned out to be anything but a match made in heaven.  

"I spoke with him almost daily, after the first month," the romance victim said. 

Their conversations moved to private emails and phone calls. 

"Then at the beginning of the year, he asked me to send him some money," the romance victim said. 

This Sioux Falls woman was hesitant at first, but he convinced her to wire money. 

"He said he was coming to the states, as he had ties to California and Florida as well...and he did not show up," the romance victim said. 

The promises kept coming.

"He said he was working abroad. That he was an engineer, and he had a gemstone business on the side. And he was wanting to get the gemstones back into the states," the romance victim said. 

She agreed to pay the duty fees. He sent her a form to take to customs. A sobering realization came soon after. 

"My heart sunk... they said this document is probably about six years old, and we've changed the format," the romance victim said. 

It was too late. At the end of their 6-month romance, she was left heart broken...

"I ended up...about $175,000," victim said. 

Better Business Bureau Director Jessie Schmidt says it's a familiar story. 

"Anybody can become a victim of a romance scam. Anyone that is interested in having a relationship and falling in love," Schmidt said. 

They say love is blind, but this woman is hoping to open other potential victim's eyes. 

"If anybody asks you to send them money, I don't care if it's only $10...do not send them money," the romance victim said. 

However, she says it's about more than the money. 

"Do I trust anybody? Can I trust anybody?" the romance victim said. 

The real cost is fixing a broken heart. 

The Better Business Bureau released a full study just this morning about their findings, and the numbers are staggering.

Romance scams have cost consumers almost a billion dollars over the last three years. The BBB director says a lot of the time victims are too embarrassed to come forward, which makes these cases even more difficult to prosecute against. 

Read the full report on Romance Scams here. 

© 2018 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.
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