They'd hit it off right away, and he said he lived just outside of Phoenix, which seemed relatively proximate to a woman in remote Yuma, Ariz. First, he was traveling through India with his daughter.Then the daughter became ill and had to be hospitalized.The FBI said there is no indication that the information was ever removed.
Then she received a nearly $1,000 phone bill from calling the phone number he had said wouldn't charge her. number Best reached him at revealed the number was no longer in service and was hosted by Magic Jack, an Internet-based phone service that allows people anywhere in the world to make unlimited calls from a U. Shortly after the conversations, victims are provided links to a website where their names, photos and telephone numbers are posted, along with the option to view the sexual conversations for $9.
CNNMoney's attempts to reach "John" on his international phone number provided by Best revealed that it was based out of Nigeria -- a hotbed for online scams -- and has since been disconnected. Victims are then prompted to pay $99 to have their name removed from the site.
The victims reported collective losses of $50.4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.
About 70% of the victims were female; more than half were women 40 years or older.
Be especially cautious with people you only know through online messages and phone calls. Many scammers use fake photos to lure their victims but video messaging is much harder to fake.
Sh'reen Morrison had been on an online dating site for only a few weeks before she realized that something was seriously wrong with the man who had been actively pursuing her by text message and email.
When Morrison suggested that her suitor put his daughter on a plane to get better medical attention at home -- and even offered to pick the girl up at the airport -- a new crisis struck.
By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.
In a typical con, the perpetrator will spend weeks or even months building up a romantic relationship with a victim through e-mails, texts or phone calls, before eventually asking for money.
And many of the scammers aren't even in the United States.
When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate.