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New online romance scam is deceiving Arizonans, asking for payments overseas

Posted: 8:46 AM, Jul 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-18 14:53:34Z

Here's a warning for all Arizonans looking for love.

There is a new online "romance scam" circulating around the Phoenix area, and many people using online dating applications or websites are sending thousands of dollars overseas.

In the investigation run by the State Attorney General's office, the scammers are pretending to be interested in their victims, buttering them up, and then luring them to send money.

The investigation also says the scammers often claim they need money for medical expenses or traveling costs, and many of the scams are originating from Ghana, which has been known for internet-based fraud in the past.

“Scammers who prey on people's emotions are using these online dating scams more frequently," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “The scammers will often spend weeks building a relationship with a victim before asking for money for something like a medical procedure or a trip to meet in person. You always need to be cautious when you meet someone online, particularly if they're from another country."

In the month of May, the Arizona Attorney General Special Investigations Section and Financial Remedies Section was honored a seizure warrant, issued by the Maricopa County Superior Court.

The warrant allowed them to temporarily stop certain money transfers going from Arizona to Ghana, and a temporary call center was set up to inform victims about the scam.

In the end, and over a course of 20 business days, law enforcement was able to return nearly $14,000 back to victims.

The U.S. Embassy in Ghana has actually offered some tips to those looking for their significant other. Here's what they say you should look out for:
 
  • You met a friend/fiancé online.
  • You’ve never met face to face.
  • Your correspondent professed love at warp speed.
  • Your friend/fiancé is plagued with medical or other life problems requiring loans from you.
  • You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of gold or gems.
  • You’ve sent large sums of money for visas or plane tickets, but the person cannot seem to make it out of their home country.
  • When your friend does try to leave the country, he/she gets into a car accident or is detained by immigration officials demanding payment, bribes, or proof of a certain amount of cash on hand for travel.