November 22, 2017

Local woman falls victim to scammer, tells story to help other avoid the same

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WEST BRANCH — With the promise of a brighter future and a loving relationship, a local woman, who asked the Herald not to use her name, said she fell victim to an online scammer earlier this month.

“I didn’t see it coming,” she said. “He would always call me and always text me.”

The woman maintained a romantic relationship with her future scammer for nearly nine months, first on the online dating website Plenty of Fish and later on Google Hangouts.

Living off disability payments, the woman was hopeful for a better life, and the smooth-talker managed to convince her that he was stranded in South Africa and needed financial help returning to the United States.

Now she is out $400 that she didn’t have to lose, leaving her defaulting on bills and relying on cash advance places to make ends meet. She is also without the affection she had been taunted with.

Initially she told him that she didn’t have money, but eventually he wore her down on the hope of meeting face-to-face.

“We were supposed to meet this week,” she said, with tears rolling down her cheeks.

She said she sent two payments of $200, first on a Walmart to Walmart transfer and next via Western Union. Each payment went to a different person and different address.

The man has since stopped responding to her, but the social media accounts he used to identify himself to her are still active, meaning those accounts are likely not him.

“I got really screwed,” she said. “I want to tell people to make sure they don’t get scammed themselves.”

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