Is your online flame who you think they are?
A Capital Region woman says she was conned and is out more than $12,000.
“I have a big heart and sometimes I want to see the good in people,” A catfishing victim said.
There wasn’t any good in a recent online love connection for this Capital Region woman.
We are calling her Louise to protect her identity.
After years out of the dating scene, she says she was growing lonely.
In May, she decided to try a dating app.
Almost immediately, someone calling himself Ronnie complete with handsome profile pictures seemed very interested.
“He made me feel like I could talk to him about anything. We shared some personal stuff too.”
He said he was shy so he didn’t want to speak with you via video chat.
“I kept coming back to that.”
The man she knew as Ronnie claimed to be from Seattle. He said he grew up an orphan and was realizing his dream of running his own orphanage, but was running into financial problems.
“It broke my heart and I felt like I really needed to do something.”
She earns around minimum wage but sent some money she had saved via gift cards. Ronnie had instructed her to send them to a PayPal account.
“At first, I sent him $1,500.”
Ronnie said that was not enough to feed the children. So she sent $2,000 more. Then, she took out a loan.
“I gave him $12,500 total.”
The victim says at that moment, she wasn’t thinking about anything because she believed him.
“Yes. He was the only person I could talk to.”
It was only after Ronnie’s countless broken promises of reimbursement that she realized she’d been the victim of an online romance scam-better known as “Catfishing.”
If you think she must be really naive or downright stupid, well, think again. That’s because she’s not alone. Studies find billions are stolen across the globe by anonymous scammers, mostly overseas who leave broke and embarrassed victims in their wake.
“If I knew that kind of scam was going on. I would not be where I am right now.”
The investigators looking into Louise’s case tell NEWS10 ABC, they believe the scammer is based in Africa. Arresting them is next to impossible. That’s why it’s important to demand to see a potential love interest in person or by video chat, don’t give them money and always ask tough questions.