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Police offer safety tips in wake of recent online dating scam in Brownwood

By Shenna Stout, sstout@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 04 2012 05:46:27 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 05 2012 08:27:47 AM CST
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

Online dating is a trend that has become popular in the U.S., however online dating scams are also becoming prevalent, leaving some people brokenhearted and broke.

Brownwood Assistant Police Chief James Fuller said if the person you meet on the internet avoids wanting to meet in person, that should be a red flag.

"You know online, you can be whatever you want to be," Fuller said.

Another red flag? When the person begins asking for money.

Recently a Brownwood woman fell victim to an online dating scam.

She wired more than $6,000 to a man claiming he would marry her, and then never heard from him again.

"It's a difficult case to prosecute. It's a difficult case to investigate because the victim would willingly give money to the suspect," Fuller said.

And since the money was wired via internet.

"The e-mail service offers a receipt for handing out money," Fuller said.

"I think the chances of getting your money back on these online scams is very, very slim; it's just difficult to prosecute someone here from Brownwood, Texas when they could be anywhere in the world," Fuller said.

Fuller said they normally see one or two online dating scams a year in Brownwood alone.

Fuller said to never give out personal information, like social security numbers and banking information, over the internet. Also, create an e-mail account that will only be used for online dating websites.

Fuller also said to speak with the person you meet online on the phone before you meet them in person.