Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - NewsChannel 9 has spent the week profiling scams that have been reported by people throughout Central New York.
Some new data has recently emerged indicating which scams are the most effective in separating victims from their money.
Work-from-home and criminals impersonating FBI agents were the most common type of internet crime complaints. But internet romance scams are on the rise.Donald Van Valkenburg used online dating websites
to meet women and then swindle them out of their money.
Van Valkenburg told the women lies about his background and scam business to shower his girlfriends with gifts. Then the women would foot the bill for their romance.
Last year, the Internet crime complaint center received more than 5,600 complaints of romance scams – most of the victims were over 40 – with scammers using stories of tragedies or hardships to keep victims concerned and steal their money. The price tag for the average victim was $8,900.
“We've had people lose thousands and thousands of dollars for some really sob stories that they think are true and they're not,” said Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau.
Experts say such scammers can be cunning and persistent. Singles of all ages, backgrounds, and education levels have been roped in online with all the right words.
The Better Business Bureau also has a warning about dating and romance website services.
“We unfortunately have given a lot of these companies 'F' ratings because they haven't followed through on contracts, they haven't provided the services they said they would provide, and they haven't offered refunds that consumers are looking for,” Penders said.