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The Federal Trade Commission revealed that a record $304 million was lost to romance scams in 2020.

According to CNN, scammers lurking on dating apps and social media hauled in the record amount by striking up conversations with strangers to build up enough trust to eventually ask for money.

The scam is one that has steadily increased over the past four years. Last year alone, there was a 50% jump in reported dollar losses from romance scams from 2019.

Apparently, the pandemic was no help and only made things easier for scammers by creating more “legitimate” excuses for why people may need money. Scammers can hide their real motives and use the pandemic as n excuse for why they couldn’t meet the person on the other end in person. Some would even claim they needed money for medical expenses.

The FTC says on average $2,500 was sent to romance scammers last year, which was more than ten times the median loss when it comes to all types of fraud, CNN reported.

Emma Fletcher, an analyst for FTC, says that social media and the rise of online dating services opens the door for scammers to prey on victims, and the scams are increasing.

“To be able to make that connection and do it remotely is something that may not have been possible a decade ago, but it’s very much possible and socially quite common now for people to make love connections online, and they’re taking advantage of that,” Fletcher said.

Scammers may invest months and sometimes years into building a trusting relationship with their prey. They may ask for money to purchase a flight, medical expenses, and/or debt matters.

Amy Nofziger, the director of the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, told CNN that she’s witnessed victims lose $7,800 to $90,000. Sometimes the victims cash out their retirement funds or life savings under the assumption that they are truly helping someone in a time of need.

Ellen Floren, a 68-year-old woman from Chicago, fell victim to a romance scammer she met off Nextdoor. The man claimed he lived in her neighborhood, and the two began exchanging messages that felt innocent.

“He couldn’t wait to meet me. He was just so enamored with me. We had really nice conversations and all kinds of things,” Floren told CNN.

But it didn’t take long before she realized she was being scammed. Within four weeks, the man asked her for money so that he could watch movies on an upcoming international flight and then asked for $2,000 to replace work equipment he has supposedly lost in a cab.

“He just kept coming up with all these excuses,” said Floren.

The FTC says gift cards and wire transfers are the most common means of payment methods these scammers use because they are difficult to trace. The FTC also says it’s not easy tracking down scammers because, often enough, they are from overseas and use fake names and photos.

“Our data suggests that there’s room for improvement in fraud detection and prevention,” Fletcher told CNN.

Although there’s room for improvement in fraud protection, the most important thing to do right now is educating consumers on romance scammers by teaching them how to identify fake profiles and highlight the type of questions scammers usually ask.



Former NFL Player Kellen Winslow II Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison





Former NFL football player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison under a plea deal on Wednesday. He was convicted for multiple rapes and sexual offenses against five Southern California women. 

According to the New York Post, Winslow, 37, was convicted on charges of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

He appeared in court virtually at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, California. At the advice of his attorneys, Winslow did not speak before his sentencing.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow could only be described with “two words, and that is sexual predator,” according to the outlet, and called his crimes “brazen.” Bowman also said that he preyed on vulnerable women, saying, “The vulnerability of the victims was no accident.”

The son of former San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow exposed himself to his 57-year-old-neighbor, who was gardening. He also performed a lewd act in front of a 77-year-old woman at a gym while concealing his ankle bracelet with a towel. 

The forcible rape involved a homeless Encinitas woman who was one of the four women who gave victim impact statements on Wednesday.

“It’s affecting my life every day and every night,” she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life.”

All of the women who spoke described the emotional trauma they experienced due to the attacks and how it has impacted their lives.

But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19, according to The Post. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and to the sexual battery of the hitchhiker.

Last month, both sides agreed to drop the sexual battery charge down to assault with intent to commit rape. In doing so, the maximum sentence was reduced to 14 years from the 18 years Winslow initially faced.

At one point in his career, Winslow was one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. A first-round pick, he played for the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and the New York Jets. His last season playing football was in 2013.

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Rapper Bun B Calls Texas Governor ‘Bat Sh*t Crazy’ for Lifting Mask Mandate






Legendary rapper Bun B called out Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott for reopening the entire state and lifting mask mandates.

Gov. Abbott sparked outrage on Tuesday when he announced he was ending Covid-19 restrictions and lifting the mask mandate.

Abbott said all businesses in the state will reopen fully by March 10.

Many praised the governor for his courage and bravery, but Bun B and others expressed outrage and fear that the Covid-19 death rate would escalate despite the availability of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines.

Bun B wrote on Instagram: “This is bat sh*t crazy @govabbott and you know it. As if you didn’t already have enough blood on your hands. SMFH.”

The rapper referred to Gov. Abbott’s response to the recent winter storms that knocked out power to millions of residents and resulted in dozens of deaths.

Bun B took a disrespectful tone, stating Gov. Abbott is “not even Worried bout the people….. He Gotta Get Up Out Of Office… @governorabbott.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden criticized Abbott and other governors who chose to reopen their states and lift mask mandates. Biden called the decision “Neanderthal thinking.”

Gov. Abbott struck back on Twitter by accusing the president of “recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.”

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Tags: Bun B, COVID-19, Gov. Gregg Abbott, mask hysteria, Texas news

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A Pack Of Dogs Mauled A Woman To Death After Escaping From Neighbor’s Yard





A woman was killed by a pack of dogs that allegedly escaped from a neighbor’s yard. 

According to Newsweek, a pack of “vicious” dogs attacked a woman identified as Deann Stephenson last month, and now her family is pursuing legal action. On February 15 in the afternoon, Stephenson was walking to a corner store in Porter, Texas, when four dogs attacked her, KPRC-TV reports. 

Newsweek reports that dogs seemed to have escaped from a neighbor’s front yard. The woman died after she was taken to Montgomery County’s Kingwood Hospital. Stephenson and her family had just moved to the area about a year before the incident. Stephenson leaves behind her husband, who is disabled, and one son. 

No details about the woman’s injuries or the breed of the dogs have been clarified. The family has hired Patrick O’Hara in their legal suit. “No criminal charges have been filed against the dog owner. This is horrific, these dogs should have been put down years ago and I believe that blood is on the hands of Montgomery County,” O’Hara told KPRC-TV on March 1. 

According to interviews from the victim’s neighbors, the same dogs have also attacked other residents in the community, one of which was a child. O’Hara, who facilitated the interviews, said he would be filing a lawsuit this week. No defendant has been confirmed. Stephenson’s son and relatives believe the owners should be held responsible. 

“I believe my mom deserves justice. She always took care of me. I think she would want me to fight for her,” said Keaton Clark.

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