had no idea how to go about it and ended up losing her retirement funds – all $100,000.00!
Sarah (not her real name) was one of hundreds of individuals that Terrill and I dealt with over the years. She was in her 60’s, widowed and getting close to retiring. She had saved just over $100,000.00 and was expecting a small pension. Like a lot of people her age the thing that worried her the most was retiring and being on her own.
So she turned to an online Christian dating site. She picked the Christian dating site believing that everyone on the site was a Christian, was a real person and that they had been screened by the actual website.
None of these dating sites can confirm 100% that a person is real!
Many of these dating sites will create fake male and female accounts!
She met “Charles” on the site and, like most people, believed what she saw on his dating profile. He had created a fake account using someone else’s images and biography that he had stolen from another social media site. Charles was a typical predator. He would cruise online dating sites looking for lonely women (and men) and then reach out to them. He would build the relationship slowly making sure he got to know his victims; their darkest secrets, their desires and their needs. This is how predators work – they get close to you through their lies, telling you want you want to hear while at the same time trying to isolate you from your family.
He started off slowly saying he worked for the United Nations and was helping developing countries in Africa. Over the course of a year he would ask for small amounts of money, cell phones or help with paying bills stating that he was “in the middle of nowhere” and didn’t have access to these items.
Once he knew that he had Sarah hooked with promises of love, travel and financial stability he went for the “big score.” He told Sarah that he had the opportunity for a great investment. The investment would return 300% interest on their money and allow them to do the things they had talked and dreamt about – to travel the world together in style.
Sarah sent him her life savings. However, instead of sending the money to Africa (where he was supposedly based) Charles had her wire the funds to Hong Kong. A day later Sarah was unable to contact Charles and became worried. It was at this point that Sarah reached out to the police. Through some co-operation with the banks and the Hong Kong police I was able to recover $98,000.
Charles was never arrested and is probably back online under another fake male / female account.
These scammers will pretend to be male, female, rich, poor and every ethnicity – whatever it takes to get your money.
- She thought online dating sites were safe
- She believed everything that she saw online
- She didn’t tell her family because he told her not to
- She didn’t realize he was isolating her
- He kept making excuses about when he would be back in North America
- He kept making excuses as to why he couldn’t use his computers video for video chats
- She wired money to a foreign country
Think this is just an “old people’s problem?” Terrill and I have dealt with every type of person who became a victim to these types of scams; young, old, male, female, rich, poor, white collar, blue collar and every ethnicity.
Everyone can be scammed! It just takes the right bait at the right time.
Your socio-economic background does not matter!
Don’t become another online victim