CLEVELAND — Local consumer experts issued a warning about online romance scams, as we head toward the Valentine's Day weekend and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to isolate many.
Jessie St. Christopher of Cleveland issued her own dating site warning after she nearly fell victim to a smooth-talking man in March 2020.
“He seemed to be a loving fellow at first, you know a daughter, working hard," St. Christopher said.
“Like I love to hike in the woods, I love to be in nature and he said he loved the same things.”
"He told me 'oh you’re everything I’ve ever dreamed of, you are the perfect woman for me, we’re going to have such a wonderful life together.'”
“But after two months of phone calls, texts, and exchanging pictures, he called me up and said that his equipment broke down, could he have $25,000."
“And then he kept begging, oh please, please, can’t you just give me a little, just a little, my daughter’s school needs money.”
“And I said we’ve never met face-to-face, and this is highly inappropriate. If somebody is asking you for money, and you’ve never met them face-to-face, pass them by.”
Cleveland Better Business Bureau President Sue McConnell told News 5 two BBB reports indicate romance scams have taken more money from Americans in the past few years than any other con-job sweeping the United States.
The pandemic has certainly had an impact," McConnell said.
“Romance scammers even pop-up when you're in gaming apps, they will reach out to you. They’ll come up with many, many excuses to try to get you to send them money.”
“When it comes to online dating sites try to see customer reviews or a BBB profile on the company, so you have a handle on the unhappy situations people are involved in.”
“Be hesitant to share a lot of details about your personal life, your address, your birth date, the name of your children, the names of your grandchildren."