Looking for love online? Be careful. After meeting suitors on Match.com, a well-known dating site, victims across the United States have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to these criminals posing as perfect partners.
When online dating turns into a big scam, the emotional and financial shock can be devastating, and older Americans are among those who have paid the price. It happens, as a senior federal prosecutor in Oklahoma put it, to people looking for love, companionship and “a partner to share their life with.”
Consider the woman from Utah, 81, who said she paid around $ 26 to subscribe to Match.com earlier this year just to meet a scammer. Urging her to quit the dating site to text each other through Google Hangouts and WhatsApp, he relentlessly pursued her. The 21st century Svengali hid behind an attractive photo and said he was a 64-year-old man from Copenhagen, Denmark, educated in the United States and owner of a construction business and a house bedroom apartment in Oklahoma. He called her “my darling”, “baby” and “the love of my life”. Saying he was retiring in November, he promised they would get married and started calling her “my wife”.
Sweetness smells of stench
“I’ve never seen a man talk to me like he did and tell me all this garbage. That’s all it was, garbage, ”the woman, who asked not to be identified by name, told AARP. She never met the nickname suitor in person.
The woman alerted the AARP Fraud Watch Network hotline, 877-908-3360, before speaking in an interview. She described being so charmed by the man that she painted her nails a color he liked before a scheduled meeting in Las Vegas, which never took place.
When the man told him he was helping build a skyscraper in Venezuela, he suddenly said he needed money for taxes and other issues, including a stolen wallet. In June, she made two wire transfers totaling $ 130,000 to one of her associates. That was 5,000 times more than the $ 26 she remembered paying Match.com.
“He was very cunning and very intelligent,” she said, “and when he realized that I had enough confidence in him, he played me all the way.”