A soldier on duty, travel photos, family pictures -- all photos you might see on social media sights. But, seeing isn't always believing.
"Oftentimes, the fraudsters will look for photos of men in the military and they will play on the sympathies of the women they have for people in the armed forces," said US Postal Inspector Adam Latham.
Once they've stolen pictures, the scam artists will post them on internet dating sites where they troll for vulnerable women.
"The typical victim that we've uncovered is middle aged divorce woman in the US. They use stolen credit card to send them flowers, teddy bears, chocolates," Latham said.
After gaining their trust, the real scheme begins.
"They are told there is a financial emergency, their credit cards don't work overseas or there is some kind of business emergency and they are told to send some money," Latham said. Many victims do just that, only to learn they've been scammed.
Postal inspectors say millions of dollars have been lost in so-called "Sweetheart Schemes" across the country. But the money isn't the only thing lost.
"There is a lot of trust involved with them thinking they were in love with the man, they are embarrassed by the money they lost, they don't want family members to know, they don't want their employer to know," Latham said.
Postal inspectors say women and men should be careful with online relationships. Two of the women involved in the case above were forced to file bankruptcy.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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