FBI warns of online dating scams using victims as ‘money mules’

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CLEVELAND– The Cleveland Division of the FBI issued a warning following the rise of particular online scams.

The FBI said they have received many complaints from people who used online dating sites, only to be conned out of their money.

“The victims have never met the individual with whom they are communicating, but the bond they’ve established through a sophisticated grooming process can be very strong and very difficult to break,” the Cleveland FBI said in a news release on Tuesday.

The victims are often used as “money mules,” making them complicit to laundering illicit funds. Victims have lost their life’s savings or faced criminal charges. Others have even committed suicide from the emotional distress.

In one “Operation Romeo and Juliet” case, a California man signed up for an online dating site after the passing of his mother. In his search to fulfill his promise to his mom to “find a good woman,” he became the target of a romance scammer. The man worked with the FBI, leading to an arrest and charges.

The FBI advises people not to send money to someone they have never met and have no reason to trust. They should also never hand over personal information, including bank account number.