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She fell for a romance scam on Facebook. The man whose photo was used says it's happened before.

Backup singer loses $1 million in dating scam
Former backup singer for Stevie Nicks loses over $1 million in romance scam 03:31

Romance scams are booming. The Federal Trade Commission says it received 70,000 reports of romance scams in 2022, with reported losses of $1.3 billion.

Liza Likins is one of those who fell victim to such a scam. The former backup singer for Stevie Nicks and other musicians says what she thought was true love with a man she met online ended up costing her over $1 million.

 In 2020, Likins lost her husband of 23 years, Greg, to cancer. She later decided to start dating again and joined Facebook Dating, a part of the site where users can set up a dating profile to meet people.

That's when a man calling himself Donald, who said he lived in Australia, messaged her. She eventually struck up an online relationship with him.

"I spoke with this man every day on the phone for maybe 4 or 5 hours a day," Likins said. "We became very, very close."

But over time, she said, he started asking for money. She sent him some from her savings and even sold her house to generate more funds after "Donald" claimed he had been unjustly thrown in jail and needed bail money.

He told her he would be coming to the U.S. to be with her. Likins says when she finally realized it was a scam, she was stunned.

"I think I just left my body and went into complete traumatic shock," she said. "I mean, I was speechless. I couldn't, I didn't know what to think or say."

Seeking answers, Likins turned to Social Catfish, a company that verifies identities and uncovers scams using reverse search technology. The company told her "Donald" was a fraud — but the photos he sent of himself were of a real person. 

That person is German life coach Raho Bornhorst, who says scammers have stolen his photos and used them to set up more than 100 fake profiles to scam women like Likins. Bornhorst told CBS News he has spoken to many women who were scammed.

"They said, 'I fell in love with you,'" Bornhorst said. "It's like definitely 100 profiles ... 100 women at least contacted me like this. And I have a series of like 20, 30, 40 profile pictures, screenshots that I take because I cannot get them deleted."

Liza Likins, left, fell for a romance scam that used a photo stolen from Raho Bornhorst, right.

Bornhorst is now urging Meta, the parent company of Facebook, to do more to take down scammers' fake profiles. 

A Meta representative told CBS News in an email that romance scams represent a problem that's hard to solve because scammers are so determined.

Meta said over a three-month period last year, from July to September 2023, it removed 827 million fake accounts on Facebook — 99% of them before they were reported.

Tips to avoid romance scams

Meta says if you join Facebook Dating, don't share personal information and don't send money to people you don't know.

Social Catfish, which verifies online identities, advises people to be wary if someone they don't know initiates a conversation online out of the blue. The company also says scammers avoid meeting in person and often will claim they can't meet because they are serving in the military or live overseas. Social Catfish recommends people avoid speaking with people who make those claims.

The biggest red flag, many experts say, is when someone communicating online asks for money.  They advise never to send money to an online contact and to stop communicating with the person.   

-Nicole Busch contributed to this report.

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