CBS47 Investigates: online romance scams hitting the valley

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Are you looking for love through an online dating site? In the past 36 months, the Better Business Bureau received 836 Scam Tracker reports related to romance fraud. If you don’t think it’s happening here in the valley think again.

The BBB has received nearly 7,500 complaints against online dating services, in which some of the complainants alluded to fraudulent activities.

Losses reported in the United States and Canada over three years totaled nearly $1-billion. In 2018, romance fraud was named one of the BBB’s 10 riskiest frauds.

“We talked on the phone once, he was British. We then started texting each other because I couldn’t understand him,” says Sharon.

Sharon doesn’t want to use her last name because she was defrauded out of thousands of dollars.

But she wants others to know romance fraud is real.

Sharon says, “He told me how much he loved me and I was his soul mate.”

She says she met the man online from a dating site and their relationship grew.

She adds they were even talking marriage.

She says, “He told me he started this business and had a whole bunch of boats he bought for a million dollars.”

But he then needed tens of thousands of dollars to get the boats out of port.

Fresno Police Detective Doug Reese says, “They make these grand promises and then start asking for money.”

Reese tells CBS47 he is working several cases of these romance scams in Fresno.

He says many times family members can’t convince their love one it is a scam, and try to limit their computer and phone access.

Reese says, “the scammers if they have their address, which they normally do, will start sending them cell phones so they can reestablish that communication. If they loose the cell phone, they will send another one.”

Reese says these scammers are persistent.

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