Broken Heart, Broken Budget


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

If you're looking for love, there's nothing wrong with casting a wide net. Just don't get reeled in by a scam artist.

When I shot the story you see above, I planned on filling the space below with warnings and statistics about what can happen if your online date turns out to be a scam artist. But as fate would have it, I got a recent email from a reader that says it much better than I could.

Here, in her own words, is her story. She asked that her name and location be withheld…

I love country music.  It expresses real emotion and sets life experiences to music.  It also recently saved me from financial disaster.

Divorced for a number of years, over 50 with no single men in sight, I turned to an online dating site.  What’s the worst that could happen – a broken heart?  I nearly ended up with a broken bank account, but a Brad Paisley song playing in the background saved me.

The song is called “Online,”and it tells the tale of how a short, overweight guy that lives in his parent’s basement, works for a pizza place and has never even been to second base magically transforms  into a rich, handsome Calvin Klein model that lives in Malibu.  This magic occurs every time he logs on to his computer.  Although the song has been around since 2007, I never thought of it as anything more than a cute and catchy tune.  That is, until last week when it served as a musical warning – a warning that there could be fictitious alternate personalities lurking on the Internet.

Some dating sites claim that one of every five romances start online. Maybe, but so does a lot of identity theft.  The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

Looking back, there were so many red flags that I couldn’t or didn’t want to see, because I wanted so badly to be wanted.  He never answered personal questions; instead he talked about feelings – like how we shared such a connection.  His profile photo was that of a guy on a tractor (too far away to see the face) yet he didn’t know a John Deere from a backhoe. He wrote he was serving in the Army in Afghanistan.  The photo he sent was of a very good looking solider with honest eyes and sweet smile.  The name clearly visible on the uniform matched the name on his account, but the number of stripes on the uniform didn’t add up to the number of years that he claimed to be in the military. He moved way too fast and talked about a future together after only a few exchanges.  He refused to send his military address, claiming the mail was unreliable. He said he was unable to use a phone in his area do to military security.

I am a college-educated woman with a good job. I should have known better. But he called me dear, sweetie, and honey – and how I longed to be someone’s honey again. Sweet talking, good looking and defending our country – what more could a woman ask for?

He was attentive to everything I wrote and he wrote what I was hoping to read.  Could it be possible that I had found the man of my dreams in just a few short days?   He said we were perfect for each other.  He said I could make him the happiest man on earth if only I would be waiting at the airport when he arrived home in only two short months.  I could wait two months for my soul mate, couldn’t I?   The next step for us was to have an “exclusive” relationship.  He wanted both of us to take down our online dating profiles.

That’s when he dropped the hammer. He wanted me to share my password with him so that he could take down my profile for me.  He said it was a complicated process and he wanted to start taking care of me right now.  As I was trying to figure out if this just a sweet gesture, a little jealousy, or the sign of a control freak, Brad Paisley came on the radio and brought me to my senses.

Sharing that password would give him access to my personal information including the credit card I used to pay for the account.  He would have my birth date, my address and zip code.  If the password was the same I used for other online accounts, he would have access to those as well.

In an instant, Mr. Right became Mr. Terribly Wrong.

By sharing my story I hope my experience will serve as a warning for others. I was one click away from becoming another statistic living a financial nightmare. I changed all my passwords – now no two are alike.  I added strong antivirus software to my computer and for added protection I put a security alert on my credit.

Don’t let looking for love end up costing your financial future.  Guard your personal information with even greater care than your heart because the financial consequences of identity theft can’t be healed with a good cry and box of chocolates.

Warning signs:

  • Wants to use an outside messaging service or email account
  • Talks about “destiny” or “fate” way too soon
  • Claims to be recently widowed or have no living family
  • Asks for your password
  • Asks for your address or contact info under the guise of sending flowers or gifts
  • Says he lives in the U.S. but is currently traveling abroad, working overseas, or in the military
  • Makes a lot of grammatical and spelling errors
  • Asks you for money

That’s one reader’s story – what’s yours?

Have you had experiences with online dating – good or bad – you’d like to share? If so, do it on our Facebook page. And to keep from having your heart or money stolen, check out The 10 Golden Rules of Scam Prevention.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: What You Should Do — and Not Do — When Meeting a New Dog

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,040 more deals!