Arizona's attorney general issues warning on online romance scams

PHOENIX (AP/KSAZ) -- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning state residents to beware of online romance scams after an investigation found Phoenix area residents were trying to wire thousands of dollars overseas.

The attorney general's office said Tuesday the scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites and social media, pretending to be interested in their victims before luring them to send money overseas.

It says the scammers often claim they need money for medical expenses or travel costs.

The investigation found numerous Arizona residents were tricked by such scams originating from Ghana, wiring funds abroad through a money transmitting business. The attorney general's office used a seizure warrant to stop some of the transfers to Ghana and succeeded in returning nearly $14,000 to victims.

Michael Cocanower, President of itSynergy, said it can happen anywhere, to anyone, and on any dating site.

"There are a lot of different ways that online scammers ask for money," said Cocanower. "Gift cards or Paypal as well."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.