TODAYS TOP STORIES
It's been said-- love
makes people do crazy things, and this Valentine's Day was no different.
Millions of Americans visited online dating websites in search of their
other half. But, as Fox 25's Kisha Henry shows us-- millions more also
hit up those sites-- not in search of love, but rather... a victim.
2012, more than 6,000 Americans reported being scammed on dating
websites. But, the FBI's Internet Crimes Complaint Center thinks there
are thousands more, suffering in silence, too embarrassed to share their
"It is so embarrassing, it's not even funny," says a
man we'll call "Vinny." He doesn't want to be identified, but says he
was the victim of a love scam. "I just got so caught up. I didn't even
realize it until it was too late," he says.
Vinny lives out of
state. Using a dating website, he virtually "met" and fell in love with
an Oklahoma woman online. "She was a beautiful, beautiful woman. She was
a 10," says Kathleen Close, owner of Kaisen Investigations in the
Metro. A few months, an engagement, and thousands of dollars later,
Vinny hired Kathleen to make sure the woman of his dreams... wasn't just
"There was a time she was supposed to take a trip and
come down and meet me. She said she was stranded in New York," says
Vinny, remembering when he started to see the signs. He says he never
met her in person and she always had an excuse. Her calls would drop or
she had to rush off the phone-- all things the FBI calls "red flags."
people who do this are very cunning," says James Finch, Special Agent
in Charge for the FBI's Oklahoma City division. He says the scammers
will start by grooming their victims, gaining their trust and appealing
to their online profiles. "Many will send flowers; they will send
candy," he adds.
"We talked almost every night, for hours at a time," Vinny recalls how his scammer groomed him.
the scammer gains the victim's trust, they go after what they really
want. "They ultimately ask for money," says Finch. Many times, the
scammer will play the character of a soldier or someone working
overseas, and it seems they always have the "worst luck." Excuses have
ranged from cancer to an unfair prison sentence-- all requiring money.
"Oftentimes, the victim will get a call from an individual who claims
he's a doctor. He will say the person you've been talking to has been in
a car accident and they have medical bills that need to be paid," says
Vinny's case was no different. "He had been sending her
money. She needed this; she needed that," Kathleen says. But, she adds,
it didn't add up. Vinny's online love had previously mentioned a
"booming career." "It didn't make sense why someone that had a big
company would be asking for pockets of money here and there," she adds.
But, Vinny was blinded by love.
"You lose all senses. You really do," says Vinny.
will send photographs of other people-- not of themselves-- that
they've taken from glamour magazines or from other sites," says Finch.
says she sent pictures almost daily-- of both herself and her alleged
"family." "I remember one time getting a picture and it was like-- 'Hi,
I'm laying in bed thinking of you.' And, there's a shot like someone's
holding a camera, you know, laying in bed," says Finch. Vinny says it
all seemed so real, but Kathleen's investigation found it was all a lie.
was later arrested and is serving two life sentences for child abuse.
She had kept her 14-year-old child locked in a closet and had burned him
and starved him," says Kathleen.
"It hink it was one of those-- I
didn't think it could happen to me kind of things," says Vinny,
remember the heartbreak and shock. "But, it did. By the time I realized,
wait a minute, this is a scam, I was already too deep into it."
Vinny may have lost thousands of dollars and got his heart broken, but it doesn't have to happen to you.
can be fun, but it can also be really, really dangerou. There are a lot
of physical, financial and emotional dangers involved," says Maria
Coder, author of Investidate. She lives in New York, but helps folks
across the Nation navigate through the physical, financial and emotional
dangers of dating-- all through tips she's learned first-hand. "I was
dating someone who I thought was great, and then one night I discovered
he was soliciting about three-dozen women online via Facebook," she
In Maria's case, she's lucky all she got away with was a
broken heart. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center says thousands
of victims lose much mroe every year.
"We have had many people in
romance scams who have traveled to these foreign countries and they
have come up missing, been injured, and some... decease," says Finch.
first thing I suggest people do when they're dating someone new is to
check if the person has a criminal sex offender past," says Maria. She
recommends free websites like familywatchdog.us and criminalcheck.com--
which allow you to type in someone's name or zipcode.
tip-- spydialer.com. It's another free website where you can type in
someone's cellphone number. It dials into their voicemail message
anonymously. If you're planning on meeting someone off the internet,
this is a great way to make sure they wound like they're in the age
range they say they are.
"If you know where they work, it's a
good idea to call that number after hours and dial by name, and make
sure that person actually works there, and that the voice that you hear
is actually the person you've been speaking with," says Maria.
can gauge a person's body language; you see sometimes by their facial
expression sif they're lying or they won't look at you. You can't see
any of that on the Internet," adds Kathleen, who agrees-- dating can be
dangerous, especially online. "The Internet is a very dangerous place. I
could sign up on an account today, set up a Facebook, use somebody
else's picture, use a fake name," says Kathleen.
In Vinny's case,
his scammer used a number of fake pictures. "She was amazingly
gorgeous," recalls Vinny. But, those pictures were not the face of the
woman on the other side of the computer, but rather-- stolen from
someone else. "Where did she get those pictures?" asks Vinny. "How was
she able to do this?" he adds, in disbelief.
If you want to make
sure the person you're dating online isn't pretending to be someone
else, take one of their photos and upload it into Google Images. "It
will show you if that photo is being used somewhere else," says Maria.
the number one tip? Keep your eyes open. The experts say, love is NOT
blind. "If you try to set up a meeting and you can never meet them,
there's a problem," says Kathleen.
"If they're not willing to meet you anytime soon, then walk away," adds Vinny.
having the right tools and being prepared, you can avoid dating
disasters. "Don't be afraid to rock the boat," says Maria. "If it's
going to tip over, let it happen now when you have less invested and
less to lose," she says.
Posted: Friday, February 15 2013, 10:18 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Obama says nation must do more for fallen heroes
May 25, 2013 10:08 GMT
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the nation must do more than just remember its fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says the country must care for the loved ones the fallen leave behind. He says the country must also make sure that all veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned.
Obama says that, above all, the armed forces must have the support needed to carry out their missions at home and abroad.
In the Republican address, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thanks the nation for its prayers and support following Monday's deadly tornado in his home state. He recalls past natural and man-made disasters in Oklahoma and says that while the state was hard hit, "we're not knocked out."
Obama's address: http://www.whitehouse.gov Republican address: http://www.youtube.com/gopweeklyaddress
Sometimes the stories with the most impact come directly from the viewers. If you have a story that needs to be told, we want to hear it. Fill out the form below and let us know what stories need to be told.
From the FOX 25 First Forecast Center..The holiday weekend is here...Expect variable clouds with scattered showers and t'storms for your Saturday. ...
US durable goods orders rise 3.3 percent in April
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in April, buoyed by more demand for military and civilian aircraft and an increase in business investment.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
Eds: With BC-US--Dow Record. Adds photos.
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: RESTAURANT FLAP LEADS TO INTERNET MELTDOWN
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- It isn't exactly to curry favor with your restaurant customers -- even if your specialty isn't curry.