FBI warning after local woman victim of ‘catfishing’, out $620k following dating scam

PITTSBURGH — With Valentine’s Day coming, romance is in the air. The ongoing pandemic, however, has made dating even harder, leading many to turn to dating apps and websites to find someone special. A Washington County woman recently used a dating site and had more than her heart broken.

State troopers said the victim was a victim of “catfishing” and was scammed out of $620,000.

“She was talking to some military men online. Met on Facebook. They just took somebody’s picture and posed as them and here they were from Nigeria,” said Nadine Voelker.

Voelker also has a friend who was scammed out of her hard earned money, too.

Officials with the FBI office in Pittsburgh said last year, more than 5,700 people in western Pennsylvania were affected by romance scams. That’s 2,100 more than the year before. The total losses were about $20 million.

The agency is warning people ahead of Valentine’s Day that criminals are using dating sites to build relationships and scam you out of your money.

To avoid becoming a victim, the FBI recommends not giving away your financial information and don’t loan money out. Only use well-known dating sites and apps. Research photos and profiles and ask questions because scammers often create fake accounts. If you plan to meet someone in person, meet in a public place and let someone know where you are. Officials also said don’t always believe stories of hardship or tragedies.