Police: scammers targeting online dating sites

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) Two instances within a week and with the same M. O. prompted Paragould Police to alert the public to the problem: Scammers targeting women through dating websites.

"Nationally, well-known dating services, it wasn't some obscure one," Cpl. Jack Hailey with PPD explained.

The first victim was scammed out of thousands of dollars after the scammer offered to reimburse her if she would pick up items he had pre-purchased and then ship them to an address he provided.

Cpl. Hailey explained when the woman went to cash the checks he'd mailed her, he'd already scammed her out of thousands.

But when she went to cash the checks he'd mailed her...

"The bank told her, these checks aren't good. You can't deposit them. You can't cash them. This account is no good."

Cpl. Hailey explained since the victim was willingly part of the agreement, it will be difficult for her to get her money back.

"Criminally, there's not really anything there for the monetary value she's out," Cpl. Hailey said. "I think it totaled $8,000 when it was all said and done."

The second scam began differently and could've ended with the victim as a suspect herself.

"He actually sent her gifts to, I guess, establish that trust," Cpl. Hailey explained.

After the relationship continued for a time through phone and email, the scammer nearly made the victim a suspect as well.

"He asked, requested, that she buy him a cell phone and he said 'I've got a credit card number you can use.'"

Cpl. Hailey told Region 8 News it was a good thing she became suspicious at that point because that credit card had been reported stolen out of Virginia.

"Do not ever give anyone any information. If you do not know that person, and you have not met that person," Cpl. Hailey warned. "With these people that are doing this...sometimes, your name, your birthday...that may be all they need."

Paragould Police are concerned that those scammers might be in the process of gaining trust with other women in the Region 8 area right now to scam them as well. He advised if it seems too good to be true...it probably is.

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