CLAYTON – A Johnston County woman looking for love ended up being manipulated out of her home and money in a romance scam. In October 2020, the 47 year-old woman said she met a man on a dating website. The man claimed he had recently left the US military overseas and didn’t have money to return to the United States..
Even though they had never met, the scammer quickly professed his love for the woman and within several weeks had made plans to marry. But he told her there was one problem.
The scammer claimed that after he left the US military, he had been staying at motels in Iraq where he had been stationed. He claimed he needed money to take care of some expenses before he could travel to the United States and Johnston County where he would marry the victim.
Unfortunately, the victim fell for the scam. She sold her home and converted the $83,000 in equity to Bitcoins. She then transferred the money to the man with one request. Let her know when the money arrived.
The scammer emailed her with the money arrived. She never heard from him again.
Scammers frequently use dating sites to meet their victims. Be suspicious of anyone who claims to need money for emergencies, bills or travel. Scammers often plan a visit but cancel due to an emergency. They also ask for short-term loans or payment for a plane or train ticket to travel to meet.
According to the FBI, scammers will search for details about you on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you. Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image and name have been used elsewhere. Go slow and ask a lot of questions.
If the individual seems too perfect, gives excuses for weeks or months why they can’t meet in person, or asked for money, beware.
In this case, the local woman lost her home and $83,000 to the scammer. Authorities are now investigating but it’s unlikely the suspect, who is most likely overseas, can ever be identified and located.