Love: Second Biggest Scam Of 2019 In Utah

Feb 14, 2020, 5:55 PM | Updated: 8:44 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Imagine falling in love, only to have your potential mate steal your life savings. A West Valley City woman said most of her matches end up trying to rip her off.

Sometimes people don’t tell the truth online, which should surprise absolutely nobody. However, shocking new numbers show just how effective crooks have been at ripping off folks looking for love over the internet.

According FBI numbers obtained by KSL, 19,473 people lost over $475 million in 2019 to romance scams across the United States.

Nearly $1.6 million of that was reported by Utahns, making romance scams the second-costliest scam in the state.

FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Collins discusses the number of people ripped off in Utah in romance scams. (KSL TV)

FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Collins said he believes the number of people duped is likely a lot higher because the data only counts people who reported their rip off.

Many won’t, he said, because they’re embarrassed or don’t know to do so.

Collins said in 2019, one Utah reported sending away her life savings, and then some.

“We had a person here who gave a fraudster overseas around $400,000 of her own money, then did a reverse mortgage on her home,” Collins said. “(She) then took out another $200,000 of her retirement funds to pay this fraudster – all thinking that she was in love – that she was, you know, eventually going to get married to this person.”

Alida Lemming demonstrates online dating for KSL reporter Matt Gephardt. (KSL TV)

Alida Leming has been online dating for about 10 years. She said at least half of the men she meets are not who they say they are, so she wasn’t surprised by the FBI numbers.

“It’s really easy to create an identity online,” she said.

Collins provided tips to keep from becoming victimized.

  1. Always be wary of who you’re interacting with online and watch for red flags.
  2. If you start chatting with someone and they profess their love right away, refuse to meet you in person or, of course, ask for money, it’s probably a fraudster.
  3. Collins also warned not to send explicit photos to people met online. The FBI has received reports of folks being blackmailed. The crooks tell their victims to send money or the photos will be shared with your family, friends or online.


Do you have a story you’d like Matt Gephardt to investigate? Send your tips to matt@ksl.com.

To tell your story to the full KSL Investigates team, submit your story idea on our online form at KSLInvestigates.com.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Get Gephardt: No, really, why are Utah gas prices still higher than the national average?

Why are gas prices in Utah so much higher than other parts of the country?
5 days ago
Daniella Rivera

Tracking Transparency: Why prison surveillance videos are rarely released to the public

Since this investigation aired last night, we've heard from some of you wondering why the state is withholding these videos from the public. Here's some of the transparency issues.
5 days ago
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps Farmington traveler get reimbursed after getting bumped from her flight

A woman paid Delta Airlines $617 to upgrade her seat. But when she arrived at the airport, she found she had no seat at all.
6 days ago
Daniella Rivera

‘They’re all in imminent danger’: Video shows violence after Utah prison allowed gangs to mingle

Corrections officials say they're doing all they can to keep the people in their custody safe, and policies at the new prison will help. Families of those on the inside say it's not enough.
6 days ago
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Get Gephardt: Surgeon no-shows for pre-paid procedure

Imagine paying for surgery, only to have the surgeon no-show. It happened to a Herriman woman, and when she couldn't get her money back, she decided it was time to Get Gephardt.
7 days ago
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt: Is your car spying on you?

KSL Investigates the privacy and security that you put at risk when your car is connected, and what to do about it.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Love: Second Biggest Scam Of 2019 In Utah