❤ Were you duped by your online “true love”?
❤ Romance scams are pervasive in New Jersey
❤ The FBI wants NJ residents to call them if they’ve been victimized

Despite frequent warnings, New Jersey residents are continuing to fall victim to romance scams.

Data shows 361 Garden State residents lost $14.2 million in romance scams last year, but Dominique Evans, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark Field Office white-collar branch, said this is only the tip of the iceberg.

“There are a lot of other individuals that may not be reporting that they have fallen victim to romance scams,” she said.

A romance scam typically involves an individual who believes they are in a romantic relationship online with someone they’ve never actually met in person or even talked to on the phone, and when their new-found love explains they suddenly need money for some emergency the victim will send it to them, and then their online “partner” will suddenly disappear.

master1305 GettyImages
master1305 GettyImages

Why not report it?

She said some Jersey residents may not report what has happened to them because they’re too embarrassed, but others are in denial.

“Some people don’t actually believe that they are a victim, the person just doesn’t believe it, they’re in love and they don’t believe this is a problem," she said.

It’s highly unlikely romance scam victims will ever actually meet the people they thought they were in love with who took their money.

“Some of them may be in the United States,” she said. “But they’re very, very unlikely going to be anywhere near where the actual victim is from.”

“Different countries throughout the world are very much engaged in these types of scams. Russia and Nigeria are a couple. There’s been some out of Romania, there’s been some out of Jamaica," she said.

Participants work at their their laptops at the annual Chaos Computer Club (CCC) computer hackers' congress,
(Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty Images)

How to avoid getting duped

She said if you strike up a relationship online with somebody, it’s important to remember you don’t really have any idea who they are.

Evans said that if you get duped in a romance scam you should report it, and if you have a loved one who’s been swindled, you can report that as well.

“If it’s too good to be true, whether it’s an investment or a love, it probably is not true,” she said.


David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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