Sweetheart Scams Bilk Online Dating Victims in Central Ohio

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When Teresa Snider began looking for love, she decided to try an online dating service.  “He seemed like he was nice, but I’ve never done on line dating and I thought ‘oh I’ll try it’,” she said.

Terri Andrews tried it too.  “I've had horrible relationships in the past and I thought this might be a way to find someone compatible.”

Instead, both women say they found themselves in a nightmare they hope others won't repeat.  They say they were never even able to meet their so-called date.  The man kept giving excuses as to why he could not meet them.

Both claim to be victims of what the investigators call a "Sweetheart Scam."

“You have really filled my heart with so much love," read Snider from a text message on her cellphone.

The men appear sweet, but don't end that way; a money pitch follows.  Both women say it was almost immediate.

“First he asked for $200,” recalls Snider. “The highest was $800.”

Terri says her man requested a whopping $2,800. 

She never sent the money, but believes she unwittingly helped launder money that her online man told her to send him.  It is money she now thinks was provided by other victims.  She describes the entire experience as “horrible” and “scary.”

The Attorney General database shows 26 complaints regarding these types of online dating cases since January of 2013.  Victims report giving between $10 and $40,000.

One of the dangers of online dating is you don't know who is really behind that photograph. It could be anyone, and as long as you don't meet them, their real identity can remain a secret.

Both women say they don’t believe the photos they received from the scammer were real.  They warn others to never send money, and when the subject comes up, do what Terri did:   “I said wrong number and I haven't heard from him since.”

Because people give money willingly, police say it's difficult to prove a crime occurred, but police do want people to report it.

Find out more information on the Sweetheart Scam