Sweetheart Scams

"I have been scammed by two men on an online dating service," Donna says. "The first time I was scammed, he was very nice, very caring, attractive, and he asked me to marry him. My late husband had a life insurance policy. He told me that he could make me even more money. I gave him the $153,000 to invest. A week later, he told me that he was robbed and that the $153,000 was stolen."

It didn't stop there. Donna got scammed again. "A few months later, I met a guy on a dating site who was a wildlife photographer and was filming over in Spain. He said his crew had run out of money. He asked me for $15,000. I did believe him. After that, I found out that the e-mails were really coming from Nigeria. I am out over $165,000 from guys who I've online," Donna says.

Cindy says she is currently being scammed by someone she met on an online dating service. "After two days, I thought something wasn't right," she says. "He wanted to know about my financial situation. Then he started asking me for $750 to send him. Even though I said I didn't have any money, he was very persistent. He asked if I could take a loan out. Once he said he was in Nigeria, then I realized he is a scam artist. I want Dr. Phil to help me catch this guy and throw him in jail."

[AD]Dr. Phil isn't sure Donna has learned her lesson. He asks her, "Do you really get that this is a scam?"

"Oh, yeah," she says.

Dr. Phil brings up some e-mails that Donna has sent to this man, since she realized he took her money. Some were romantic in nature.

"I was doing that just to try to get my money back," she says.

"I hope so."

"Yeah. I don't want anything to do with him."

Dr. Phil reads a statement Donna's scammer gave the show: "‘I am sorry I can't be available to defend myself on the show due to family tragedy. But I wish Donna only the best with her Internet dating pursuits and [hope] that she doesn't victimize any other good men, and try to set them up for her own gratification. I truly hope she finds God and changes her ways before it's too late.'"

Donna laughs.

"I sure hope you find God," Dr. Phil repeats.

"I hope he does," she says, laughing.

"You'd like him to meet God, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, I would."

"I have mixed emotions about this," Dr. Phil tells her. "One, I want to tell you how sorry I am this has happened to you, and the other, I want to grab you and shake you until your teeth just rattle."

[AD]"I know," she says, laughing.

"You are a delightful woman. You're intelligent, you're attractive, you're articulate. You don't have to be so trusting here," he says.

Cindy says the guy she's been communicating with online keeps asking her for money even though she's told him she has none. "To make a long story short, he finally asked me for $50 because now he's starving. He sold his clothes and his shoes, and he's starving and needs money for food."

"Boy, that's a guy I'd want to start up a dating relationship with " a guy with no shoes!" Dr. Phil jokes.

Dr. Phil shares the warning signs of scam artists and some scams that involve his name and image.


Dr. Phil goes over some popular scams you need to be on the lookout for:

H1N1 flu product scam: Watch out for products that claim to protect you from the swine flu. The Food and Drug Administration identified 140 products that were bogus. Consult with your doctor before taking any product.

Puppy scam: People pose as breeders and scam innocent people out of thousands on designer dogs.

Fake IRS e-mail scam: Someone sends an e-mail posing as the IRS, asking for personal information. The IRS does not do that!

Internet auctions: Consumers receive items less valuable than they were promised.

Internet access services: You sign up for service and get trapped in a long contract you were unaware of.

[AD]Travel and vacation scams: You see that great deal online, but when you get to your destination the accommodations are low quality.

Health care products: Products claiming to be the miracle treatment.

For more "dot con" scams and how to protect yourself, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Web site: FTC.gov.