BBB spreading awareness about online dating scams - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

BBB spreading awareness about online dating scams

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Many people go on dating apps to chat and meet new people. Many people go on dating apps to chat and meet new people.
Group met in the Jury Assembly Courtroom to go over the online scams. Group met in the Jury Assembly Courtroom to go over the online scams.
Tinder is just one of the many dating apps you can use. Tinder is just one of the many dating apps you can use.
Police are encouraging people to open up and go to them if you need help. Police are encouraging people to open up and go to them if you need help.
Scammers can come from all around the world. Scammers can come from all around the world.
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

Valentine's Day is Wednesday.

While it's the day of finding love in your life, law enforcement said scammers will be out to get you. 

Law enforcement and Better Business Bureau leaders met at the courthouse to talk about online romance scams.

With more people using their phones for online dating, officials want more awareness about the issue, because it is happening here in the Tri-States. 

It starts with a message or a swipe. 

Millions of people are meeting online or on apps according to the BBB, and scammers are trying to make you a victim.  

"This time of year, when people are looking for love and celebrating love, around Valentine's Day and it's a perfect time for scammers are ramping up their efforts," BBB Regional Manager Mara Clingingsmith said. 

Police said it can happen to anyone and they are encouraging people to come forward.

"Don't be embarrassed," Sgt. Bryan Dusch with the Quincy Police Department said. "Through the years, these might not be the type of cases you hear in the media a lot, but they do happen in Quincy." 

One example officials gave in their presentation was from Southern Illinois.

Olayinka Sunmola from Nigeria used a fake profile to get 30 women to send him tens of thousands of dollars.

BBB Manager Mara Clingingsmith said there are some tips to make sure you aren't the next victim. 

"If you meet someone online and they are always coming up with a reason not to meet, that's a trigger," Clingingsmith said. "If they are constantly trying to get you off a public platform to a private one, that's a trigger as well. " 

Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha says the penalty is high for these scammers. 

"We can charge theft by deception, that can be up to a class one felony," Farha said. "So there is major jail time with something like this." 

Officials who deal with victims say this issue isn't going anywhere and is becoming a big problem. 

"This kind of plays right there," Terry Gibson, victim witness with the Adams County State's Attorney's Office said. "There's a domestic cycle of abuse, it's the same way. Just a cycle that they are being taken advantage of."

Over the last year, the BBB says around one million Americans have been victimized by romance fraud and scammers have taken home close to $1 billion. 

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