For thousands of people each year, the search for love online ends not just with a broken heart, but an empty bank account.
So-called romance scams — in which fraudsters smother victims with professions of love then plead for large “loans” to cover invented emergencies — appear to be on the rise, according to federal law enforcement and fraud experts.
However, the anonymity of the site allows criminals in Ghana to take advantage of unsuspecting American singles by forging fraudulent relationships and attempting to get money out of them.
offering Americans the opportunity to meet other singles.
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The majority of Americans who start an online relationship with a Ghanaian originally think they are corresponding with someone in the United States.
Although older adults are often targeted — more than three-quarters of complaints to federal agencies came from people 40 and older — fraud experts say people of all ages and backgrounds can fall prey to romance scams.
Romance scams cost nearly 5,900 victims more than .7 million last year, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
And state and federal agencies have shut down several large romance scams in recent months, including a case in which two South Africans and a Canadian were extradited to the U. on charges of bilking hundreds of Americans of millions of dollars through romance scams and other financial fraud schemes.
Only after a relationship is formed does the correspondent inform the American that they are from Ghana.
Relationships can last anywhere from 1-3 months before the Ghanaian correspondents will ask you for money.