TBI finds uptick in online romance scams

TBI: More people falling for romance scams

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Love is in the air this time of year, but more and more people are getting conned when they think they're falling in love. Like a lot of things in life, the way we meet a mate is turning more digital every year.

Investigators at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are finding not all those out there are looking for love, they’re looking for your cash.

“If something sounds too good to be true,” TBI Agent Nick Christian said. “It’s probably too good to be true.”

TBI said there has been a 300 percent increase in romance scams since 2016. Most of the crimes start when the victim meets someone online.

Investigators said warning signs include the person asking for money soon into your conversation and avoiding any video chats. And like Agent Christian said, if the person on the other end of the computer seems too perfect they probably aren't perfect at all.

“These guys will often portray themselves as your perfect match,” Christian said. “They like long walks on the beach just like you. They're trying to gain a rapport and gain your trust.”

Christian said the perpetrators are usually part of overseas criminal organizations. They may ask you to send gift cards as a way to empty your bank accounts. Sometimes even when all the warning signs are there these romance scams can be hard for the victims to digest.

“It’s going to be tied to your heartstrings,” Christian said. “Most of our victims are very emotional when they tell us what happened. Some of them even speak to the subject as if they’re a real person.”

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