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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Those looking for love on dating sites, apps and social media should beware of the "massive number of fraudsters" using so-called romance scams to "gain unsuspecting people's trust to steal their money," a new study published by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns."People all over the world are being ripped off by these same frauds," Steve Baker, an internal investigation specialist with the BBB, told ABC News. "We got a real global problem."These romance scams have cost victims in the U.S. and Canada nearly $1 billion in just the past three years, and impacted an estimated 1 million victims in the U.S. alone, according to the BBB.Complaints from victims of online romance scams are also on the rise -- up from 21,000 in 2015 to 28,000 in 2017 -- according to the BBB. In addition, reports to the FBI about online romance scams tripled in the last five years.The Federal Trade Commission estimates, however, that 90 percent of victims don't report the scam, meaning the actual number of victims could likely be much higher.Romance scams often begin with a "grooming phase" where the scammer learns about the victim's life and sends text messages or notes that profess admiration, and eventually love.One victim of these scams, who spoke to ABC News on the condition it not name her or show her face, said that she met a man on Facebook who eventually stole $1,000 from her."He said that he was a single father ... that he was a widower," she told ABC News."He said ... he had a really bad cellphone," she added. "And that’s when I said I guess I can help you.""The second time I sent him money ... he said he was having problems paying his car," she said.He then asked for her bank information, and she says that is when she called him out and he admitted that he was a "scammer.""I said, 'You are a scammer,'" she told ABC News. "That’s when he said ... 'I am in love with you and that’s why I’m telling you the truth ... yes, I am a scammer.'"Another person targeted by an online romance scam, Donna Rodgers, told ABC News that she met her scammer on the dating app Zoosk, and he pampered her with gifts during the first weeks, but then asked her for more than $1,500."It was overwhelming," Rogers said. She said that she didn't send the money and immediately contacted authorities.Both Facebook and Zoosk told ABC News that they try to monitor and block suspicious behavior.Zoosk says it has photo verification services to help combat online scams. Both companies, however, say that consumer awareness and vigilance are also key to fight and prevent online romance scams.Baker told ABC News that anyone who may have been a victim of online romance scams and sent money through Western Union may be able to get their money back.Information on how to get their money back is available on the FTC's website, he added."They don't even have to have their original Western Union receipts as long as they know how much money they sent, and the location they sent it from, and the date I think," he added. "There's a good chance they can get some money back."Baker said that the money transfer services Western Union and MoneyGram are making "more efforts to protect people."If you were scammed as far back as 2004 all the way through January 2017, he recommends filing a claim on the FTC's website."I don't know if people will get full refunds we hope that they would, but it depends on how many claims that are filed," he added.Baker said that he thinks there are still steps he thinks the dating sites and apps can do to "warn their victims.""We would like for them to increase their efforts to try to get the crooks off their websites; in other words to screen profiles of folks before they appear on the dating sites," he said. "And if the dating sites find a profile they conclude is fraudulent, maybe because its paid with a stolen credit card, we would like the dating site to contact everyone who have been in contact with the profile."
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- After the third deadliest school shooting in U.S. history Wednesday afternoon, a number of people and organizations have found ways to extend a hand to the affected Florida communities.Cox Media, for instance, is hosting a blood drive today at various locations until 7 p.m., the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.One Blood, a Florida-based blood center, Wednesday night delivered additional blood to the Broward Health North Hospital, which treated massacre victims.One Blood said in a news release it is especially interested in donations of O-negative blood, which is the universal type and primarily used to treat trauma patients.Public Good, an online organization that partners with reputable nonprofits to distribute various donations, is collating trustworthy sites.And the Broward Education Foundation, which raises money for the public school system, has set up a Go Fund Me page.
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  • The Walt Disney Disney Co.(NEW YORK) -- Big news, summer travelers: Toy Story Land, one of the most anticipated family attractions in 2018, has an official opening date: June 30.To celebrate the announcement, Disney brought a piece of the new land right to New York City's Times Square. Slinky Dog Dash is one of many attractions in the new 11-acre Toy Story Land where guests will shrink to the size of a toy and be surrounded by giant versions of childhood toys.“With set pieces, staging, attractions and experiences, Toy Story Land represents the best of Walt Disney Imagineering’s collaboration with our storytelling partners at Pixar Animation Studios,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “This new land will place guests inside the wondrous world of Woody, Buzz and their pals -- and invite everyone to experience the joy of being a toy.”While the original Toy Story movie was released in 1995, Toy Story Midway Mania opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's California Adventure in 2008.Now, 10 years later, the all-new addition to Disney's Hollywood Studios is set against the backdrop of Andy's backyard. One of the main attractions includes Slinky Dog Dash, a ride for the whole family where Slinky Dog twists his coils around curves, hills and drops across Toy Story Land. Alien Swirling Saucers is another fun attraction for guests, where they will board a toy rocket for a spin through space.When it comes time for a bite to eat, head to Woody's Lunch Box, a walk-up window serving old-fashioned soda floats along with other tasty eats and treats.To Disney World -- and infinity and beyond!Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sometimes, you just need a beach getaway. Unfortunately, you also often need a thick wallet to enjoy one properly. But before you convince yourself that you simply don't have the cash for a vacation to fill-in-the-blank, take a look at our list of seven amazing beach destinations that are surprisingly affordable.1. Corfu, GreeceIt's no secret that Greece's economy has been struggling for some time, so the country has found itself on plenty of affordable getaway lists as of late -- particularly in the wake of Brexit, which has made all of Europe potentially even more appealing to travelers. But for our affordable beach destination roundup, we're highlighting the Greek island of Corfu. While most jet-setters head for the better known, more popular and significantly pricier Cyclades (made up of islands such as Mykonos and Santorini), Corfu is a great pick for those on a budget. Travelers can often score relatively inexpensive flights directly to the island by booking through smaller, regional airlines and once there, visitors will find that hotels, restaurants, and activities can be pretty cheap. Be wary of hotels advertising four stars (take a look at our photos first!), but even if they aren't quite up to a luxury standard, many Corfu beach resorts offer all-inclusive options and feature numerous pools, a range of dining and simple, clean rooms.Our hotel pick: Mayor Pelekas Monastery2. Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaContinually ranked as one of America's best family beach destinations, Myrtle Beach offers visitors one-of-a-kind nightlife, more than 100 golf courses and 60 miles of sandy shoreline -- all at affordable prices. Flying there doesn't put a huge burden on the wallet, and it's an easy enough drive from cities such as Charleston, Charlotte and Augusta. This locale may be known to get a bit jam-packed, but hotels account for this with massive pools and water park complexes, as well as plenty of meeting spaces and large rooms. In fact, many properties feature condo-style accommodations with kitchens and living rooms.Our hotel pick: Carolinian Beach Resort3. Algarve, PortugalWhile Lisbon lures tourists looking for a cultural fix, the Algarve attracts plenty of visitors seeking a relaxing beach vacation, thanks to its mild, year-round climate (it reportedly receives 300 days of sun per year) and stunning coastline. Finding itself at No. 1 on the U.K. Post Office's annual Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer -- a study that takes into account common vacation purchases like the price of a meal for two, drinks in a cafe, and more -- the Algarve is one of the best places for a budget getaway in Europe. With mid-range hotels like the Flor da Rocha Apartamentos Turisticos starting below $50/night, the cost of budget accommodations is low right now.Our hotel pick: Carvi Hotel Lagos4. Playa del Carmen, MexicoAchieving an affordable vacation to Mexico often mandates sacrificing peace and quiet. Well, this may be the case with Cancun, but if you drive less than an hour from this affordable, party-centric locale, you'll find Playa del Carmen, its more low-key, less crowded sister that, like Cancun, offers plenty of budget-friendly, all-inclusive resorts. Even though spring break is peak season, many hotels offer deals around this time, and day trips to spots like Cozumel and the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum are relatively inexpensive.Our hotel pick: Hotel Casa Ticul5. Phuket, ThailandGetting to Thailand does not come cheap, but once you're there, you can live like royalty for a shockingly low fee. The beach town of Phuket in particular is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, and yet even the most exclusive properties offer rooms starting around $200/night. The same stunningly low rates can be found at restaurants, shops and spas. Naithon Beach is beautiful, and conveniently close to the airport, while Batok on Racha Yai island is arguably even more gorgeous and unspoiled. Patong B
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  • Disney Parks (NEW YORK) -- For a sweet treat that’s on trend, visitors to Walt Disney World can’t miss the rose gold cupcake at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot, or the similar versions at Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at The Trolley Car Café.Disney ParksAt The Polynesian Resort, saddle up to the Barefoot Pool Bar for a rose gold margarita.
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  • Clay Daugherty(NEW YORK) -- In an ever-growing list of online challenges powered by social media, the latest trend proves that even amateur photographers can snap a shot in a drab location and make it look fab!Kelsey Maggart is credited with starting the "Hobby Lobby challenge" after she shared a series of portraits on Twitter that she took of her friend inside the craft store on Jan. 26.Maggart, who is a professional photographer, said she was surprised and happy about the attention her Hobby Lobby photos received."A few weeks ago my friend said he was shooting in Hobby Lobby so we both shot there, in different stores, to compare our shoots," Maggart told ABC News. "We live in Indiana, so flowers aren’t really an option for a few more months."Maggart said that once she posted the photos she was "shocked" to see the reaction on social media."My social media has been crazy recently and it’s just so insane to me that I was able to inspire this many people to go out and do this shoot themselves,” she said. “It really does feel amazing.”The craft store photoshoots have since moved outside Hobby Lobby stores and into WalMart, Michaels, Target and other retailers.People started sharing their own pictures using the hashtag #HobbyLobbyChallenge and have now moved onto the broader based #uglylocationchallenge.One participant told ABC News that after several of his friends saw Maggart's tweet, they challenged him to "do something like it.""I asked my friend Samantha to do the challenge with me and she was super excited," Clay Daugherty said. "We decided to go to Hobby Lobby because we knew they had a flower aisle and we thought that would be an amazing place to do it," he explained.Daugherty added that he wishes he had thought to post his photo first to get the same social media traction, but overall he was happy to participate."After I posted my tweet, some people had sent me [Maggart's] tweet of her shooting in Hobby Lobby. I was a little sad that I didn’t post the Hobby Lobby ugly location challenge first, but the pictures turned out great and I had a lot of fun," he said.Hobby Lobby did not immediately respond to ABC News request for comment.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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