FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --More people have turned to the internet to find true love. But along the way, thousands of users have also reported they were tricked.
"I heard from him almost every day for a good while," fraud victim Janet Cook said.
Cook is talking about a man named Kelvin that 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 explained.
Kelvin quickly asked janet 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.
He said 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.
Janet admits she was suspicious, but felt the only hope of her getting her money back was to send more money.
"I put my house in reverse mortgage," Cook said. "I gave him my retirement, I gave him everything."
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," US Postal inspector Jason Thomasson said. "Be sure you read them."
"I was really naive," Cook said. "Now you would be hard-pressed to pull one on me now."
Postal inspectors say 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.