Computer love or computer scam?
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley woman who says she fell in love online ... now thinks it was all a scam for money. She wants to warn other seniors about the risks associated with dating websites.
Kathleen Hamilton of Visalia says she signed up for a senior dating website after a friend of hers used it and found love.
Hamilton met someone very quickly, but as it turns out the person she was chatting with wasn't who she thought he was and may have been involved in previous scams against seniors.
Marked by the date they were sent, 68-year-old Kathleen Hamilton has saved more than a dozen love notes written by a man she met on a dating website called seniorpeoplemeet.com.
Hamilton, a widow of three years joined the website a few weeks ago. Shortly after signing on, she was approached by this man, Mark Cole.
They chatted online four hours a day. Just recently, Hamilton even started making plans for a date they were supposed to meet set up for later this month.
"I bought some new clothes, I got my nails done, got glasses ordered so I could look good for him when he came," said Hamilton.
But red flags began to appear. Cole told Hamilton he was traveling for work in Nigeria. He also gave her a phone number that didn't work and asked several questions about how much money she had.
That's when Hamilton's son, John stepped in. He started doing research online and found Mark Cole's name and picture on a scam artist website. John fears his mom was just days away from getting scammed for money.
Doug Broten of the Central California Better Business Bureau says that's likely the case ... especially because senior scams are on the rise and he's seen this same type of dating scam before.
"When they say it out loud, it doesn't quite make sense, but it makes sense at the time, and they get taken advantage of and they can be out hundreds of thousands of dollars immediately," said Broten.
While Hamilton says she's still looking for love, she's now more hesitant about the process, and hopes others will be too.
Hamilton said, "It's really emotionally sad. For three years, I haven't been dating not doing anything, just waiting for someone to come along that I could trust and be honest and here he comes and this is it."
Hamilton believes the person sending her emails used a fake picture and name. Experts warn ... when you meet someone online, do not share too much personal information and always be wary if they ask you questions about money.
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