Romance scam steals more than hearts, costs divorcing couple more than $60K

Source: Colin / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0 via MGN
Source: Colin / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0 via MGN(KALB)
Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 8:25 PM CST
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On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love and togetherness. But relationships can be torn apart by internet con-men. This year, scammers aimed Cupid’s arrow at Joe's wife.

“The scammers work on her feelings,” said Joe, who claims scam artists targeted their joint bank accounts.

“And she sends them money, and the money is never coming back,” he said. “It’s between $60,000-$70,000.”

Still in the middle of a divorce, this husband asked to remain anonymous, but he identified 4,400 texts he claims his wife exchanged with romance scammers.

It shows how deeply she was hooked because that’s just from a one-month billing period.

The texts lead to an Oakland, Calif., phone number.

“I’m not in right now. You can leave a message, and I’ll call you back,” the message says.

Joe detects an accent.

“Yeah, you can tell by that accent it’s a foreigner,” he said. “He’s not here.”

A bank alerted Sarpy County Sheriff’s fraud investigator Matt Barrall to another victim who sent $60,000 to “an internet lover” who is actually an overseas scammer.

“She didn’t believe us, and she ended up kicking us out of her home even though we had been able to prove that person did not exist,” Barrall said.

Joe knows the feeling. He claims his wife bought $2,000 in

and gave the access numbers to internet sweet-talkers.

“I think she is so addicted to this,” he said. “She’s addicted to what they’re saying, their scripts that they use.”

A loved one suddenly transferring funds and buying money cards is definitely a red flag, authorities say.

Scammers usually hijack photos off Facebook to fool victims, then ask for money to meet them in person — but that rarely happens.

Joe is convinced the game app “Word Chums” is one way scammers get close to victims.

“Yeah she was constantly on her phone either playing the game or constantly talking to the scammer,” he said.

Preparing for divorce court, this soon-to-be-ex-husband has gathered evidence that romance scammers stole his wife’s heart — and then their money.

6 News messages to the game app providers haven’t been answered yet. The husband filed reports with a local police department and the FBI.

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