Valentine's Day is like 'Christmas in February' for florists and chocolate shops. But it's also prime season for another group of people-- scam artists using phony profiles on the online dating websites.
It can leave you with a broken heart and a busted bank account. That's why a St. Louis woman has made it her personal mission to expose these crooked Casanovas.
Patsy Roach has joined just about all of the online dating websites at one time or another and, even now, admits to being a hopeless romantic.
"Never say never," Roach tells Five on Your Side. "I'd just like to find someone to go out with, spend time with and fall in love!"
But she's no dummy. So when she jumped into the online dating world with both feet a while ago, a very similar type of guy kept showing an interest in Patsy.
"There would be all this talk about how beautiful I am and all this sweet talk, and I'm like: you don't even know me," she laughs with good humor.
When Patsy figured out she was being scammed, she wouldn't stand for it. So she created a blog, 'StarGateLady Online Dating Blog' to help others avoid a major scam, while looking for Mr. Right.
"They're targeting women over 50 because they think we're lonely and desperate and I'm sure there's some out there like that, but that's not me."
The online dating scam involving a fake military profile is so widespread, there's even a Facebook group dedicated to it, and Patsy Roach is a frequent contributor.
"I see stories from women who say 'I sent him money' and I'm just like: don't do that!"
Here's some other red flags to look for, in an online dating profile:
- The person only has one photo.
- They claim to be widowed without living parents or any siblings.
- They only text or email--never a phone call.
- They claim to be in the military, and they need money.
"Sometimes I play along to see how far they go, and then I zap them."
And, yes, while rooting out the bad apples, Patsy is still hopeful she will find her soulmate. But every time she looks for a match, she spots a new kind of scam and feels compelled to expose it.
"Just when I think I'm going to stop, I get another one, you know, and so I'm like, I guess I'll stay in it for a while longer, at least until I meet somebody. When I meet somebody, it's all over."