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Looking for love or money? You could get scammed, FBI warns

Posted at 5:44 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 23:51:58-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When you think about holiday scams, online deals gone wrong probably come to mind, but it's also a time when people are looking to earn extra cash and are feeling lonely.

The FBI warns, scammers could be taking advantage of those looking for love or money.

Kristi Koons Johnson is the special agent in charge of the FBI's Omaha field office. She says never give money to someone you haven't physically met even if it feels like you're helping a friend or love interest.

"People are establishing relationships with people they've never met in person and then actually progress into a request for money. They have a desperate need of some sort and those are largely scams," Special Agent Johnson said.

They could be trying to get money from you directly or they could be using you as a money mule.

Money mules are often targeted during work-from-home schemes.

"Where you're actually moving money for the criminal actors to protect and hide the underlying scheme that they're stealing money from other people throughout the country and around the world," Johnson said.

The job description often isn't very specific and they seem to more frequently target the elderly, people new to the country or college students.

The consequences of being a money mule, even an unwitting one, can be life-altering. Not only are you taking part in a crime, but you're putting yourself at risk for identity theft, money loss, negative impacts on credit scores, the inability to open bank accounts in the future, and you could be opening yourself up to physical danger.

"This is something that breaks our heart everyday, that's why we're having a conversation with you today to make sure we can get this message out to as many people as we can--that it is a real threat and it can wipe out your life savings," Johnson told us.

If you'd like to submit an Internet crime complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, click here.