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He Stole More Than My Heart - Lonely Hearts Scam

I’ve never felt this way before.

James is just - perfect. He understands me. I’ve told him stuff I’ve never shared with anyone else. I trust him. Between our marathon phone calls and nonstop texting, I’ve learned a lot about him, too.

Sigh. I can’t wait to meet James face-to-face.

We connected a few months ago on Date 4 U, that new online dating app. Things moved faster than I ever thought possible. I mean, you hear stories all the time about people meeting online and falling in love, practically overnight. Eventually, things don’t work out. But I know James and I are the real deal.

Between our jobs and kids, we haven’t had time to meet each other in person, until now. His flight should land any minute.

I’ll never forget how ecstatic I was when he said he wanted to fly out to meet me.

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A week ago….

James: Tessa, babe, I have a surprise for you.

Me: Really? You know I don’t need you surprising me.

James: (chuckles) Yeah, but I want to.

Me: Okay (giggles). What is it?

James: I have some time off work next week, and I wanna see you.

Me: Are you serious? Oh my gosh! I would love that!

James: Uh, there’s just one thing. I’m kinda low on cash and plane tickets cost a lot right now…

Me: Maybe we can meet in a month when the costs go down. I don’t wanna wait, but maybe we should.

James: That’s just it. I don’t know when I’ll have this time off again. I hate to ask this because I don’t want my lady buying me stuff, but do you think you can cover the ticket and I’ll pay you back?

Me: Um, okay.

James: You know what? That’s okay. I shouldn’t have asked. I can tell you don’t really wanna meet me.

Me: James, no – no, that’s not it at all. I just, I…Don't worry. I’ll make it happen. How much do you need?

James: Well, the cheapest tickets are around a thousand bucks.

Me: (gulp) Well, maybe waiting until the cost comes down isn’t such a bad idea afterall.

James: Again, I don’t know when I’ll have this time off again and Tessa, I think we have something special. Babe, I need to see you, to know whether I am imagining this or if our connection in person is just as real 

Me: You’re right, James.

James: Okay, good. Wire me the money. I’ll buy my ticket today.

***************

It’s been almost an hour since his plane landed. There’s only one bag left on the carousel. It must belong to James.

Thirty minutes later…

He’s not returning any of my phone calls or text messages. I’m worried.

The next day…

I still haven’t heard from James. I just logged into the Date 4 U app. His profile’s gone.

***************

Men and women, young and old, have been victimized by the Lonely-Hearts Scam. Fraudsters gain their victim’s confidence over several weeks or months before showing their true colors. Once the victim is emotionally attached, the scammer expresses his or her need for money. Some clever scammers will even have the victim convinced it was their idea to send the money or provide personal financial information. 

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Avoid the Lonely-Hearts Scam by:

  • Speaking with a trusted friend or family member about your new online love interest before it gets serious.
  • Keeping your personal identifiable information private.
  • Regularly reviewing your financial accounts and reporting any discrepancies immediately.
  • Refusing to wire money, send cash or gift cards, or release financial information to an online love interest.

If you think you’ve been a victim of the Lonely Hearts Scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission and to the website or app where you first met the scammer.

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