Senior internet dating scams

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People looking for love online should hold on to their wallets.

More than 12,500 people filed romance scam complaints with the FBI in 2015, losing more than 0 million to fraudsters. Here’s how it works: Romance scammers might persuade you to drain your bank accounts, max out your credit cards or even sell your home -- all to send them the cash. You could unwittingly become part of money laundering or drug trafficking schemes.

Others are stuck at home during the winter months and are more likely to answer calls from financial fraudsters. Indeed, those over 65 are 34 percent more likely to have lost money on a financial scam than people in their 40s, according to research by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's Investor Education Foundation.

And almost 1 in 20 elderly respondents in a large 2014 study of New York residents reported being financially exploited at some point in their later lifetime.

Consumer Affairs' founder and former editor, Jim Hood formerly headed Associated Press Broadcast News, directing coverage of major news events worldwide.

He also served as Senior Vice President of United Press International and was the founder and editor of Zapnews, a newswire service for radio and television.

Western Union received at least 44,500 complaints about online dating and romance scams, with losses totaling at least million, between 20, the FTC’s Todd Kossow says.

Amy Nofziger, regional director of the AARP Foundation, explained how a romance scam works: The scammer will often say he or she is from the United States, but is traveling or working overseas, and will quickly profess his or her love for you.

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It would have been easy to burnish the truth, but she presented herself honestly, from her age (57) and hobbies ("dancing, rock collecting") to her financial status ("self sufficient").

My children's tuition need to be paid; I need to have at least ,000 to cover bills etc during my recovery," she said.

"I have nothing left and this sociopath is back on Match.com; same face, different dress.

February may be the month of hearts and flowers, but it's also prime time for financial cons, from imposter fraud to the "sweetheart scam." The reasons for the seasonal lift in these scams are simple enough.

Many people, still keeping with their New Year's resolutions, are looking for love and are especially vulnerable to scammers.

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