FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Online dating websites typically see a surge near Valentine's Day. While they may bring a "match" they can also bring trouble.
"I look at it now and I think 'how could I be so naive."
This woman is still healing after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a scam and she has asked us not to use her name. The 79-year-old ballroom dance executive said it happened after she decided to use an online dating service. "He was calling all the time. Almost every day he would call to see how I was. He also realized how musical I was, or am, and that I enjoy dancing so he would send a lot of music videos," said the victim.
They decided to meet, but the man who said he was a general contractor abruptly needed to go to Malaysia for work.
At one point, he said he needed money for a construction license. "The answers were always legitimate in my mind, and so I sent him the first $9,000," she said.
Over several weeks, she sent more money-- in all more, than $400,000. When he asked her for a ticket to travel to the US, something didn't seem right, so she called authorities in Malaysia. "I even called the embassy and they just said you've been scammed, you'll never get your money."
Turns out the man she talking to on the phone used someone else's picture and name for his profile. "For me I thought that I was really doing well to do the background check, so obviously, these people steal identities."
Postal inspectors said the most important red flag is money. "If they are asking you for money, ever, especially large dollar amounts, it's probably a scam," said Elizabeth Davis, US postal inspector.
Postal inspectors said it is important to remember there is great anonymity meeting someone online. If you decide to pursue any relationship business or personal you need to meet them in person.