Widow falls victim to online dating scam

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A widow was targeted in an online dating scam (WTVD)

It appears to be a simple relationship forming, but instead it quickly turns into a money-making adventure.

Online dating scams are heartbreaking, as they prey on emotions and end with money being lost.

"I heard from him almost every day for a good while," says fraud victim Janet Cook.

Cook is talking about a man named Kelvin she met on an online dating website after her husband passed away.

"I just became, I guess, attracted to him as a person because he seemed so genuine," Cook explains.

Kelvin quickly asked Cook for her personal email address so they could correspond off the dating site. So, she gave it to him.

Then, he said he was working in Africa and wasn't feeling well.

"He was in the hospital with no money and needed an operation," Cook says.

Kelvin told her he couldn't access his accounts because he was sick and he asked if she could send money, so she did.

"As soon as he was well enough, there was no doubt that I would be able to get my money back."

Cook admits she was suspicious, but felt the only hope of getting her money back was to send more money.

"I put my house in reverse mortgage, I gave him my retirement, I gave him everything," Cook reveals.

In all, she lost almost $300,000. Postal Inspectors say consumers need to remember they are talking to a stranger unless they verify their identity.

"Heed the warnings and the guidelines that the dating site has posted on the site for you," says Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson. "Be sure you read them."

"I was really naive," Cook admits. "Now you would be really hard-pressed to pull one on me now."

It's important to remember there are great people you can meet online, but it's also a place scammers are lurking. If you decide to pursue any relationship, business or personal, you need to meet them in person.

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