NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — An 80-year-old woman told North Ridgeville police that a man from a dating website scammed her out of her entire savings account.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous over safety concerns, said the scam cost her a total of $46,000.
The woman took her concerns to the North Ridgeville police department Oct. 17. There, she explained how she met a man with a French accent who went by the name “Kenneth Hawkins” on an undisclosed dating website, police said. The two sent each other text messages and spoke on the phone for several months before her money disappeared.
The man said that he owned a Pennsylvania-based construction company and lived all over the United States. He even sent her a picture of his passport.
The woman told police that the man who went by Hawkins told her that he got a job in Dubai where he and his workers planned to build a church. He claimed that his credit cards didn’t work once they got there, and he had no money to give to his crew.
The woman sent a $46,000 check to a man named Ibrahim Ahmed, with a company called Aibee Global Exports Corporation with an address listed in the Bronx. Hawkins described Ahmed as his “agent.”
“I thought I was helping somebody out,” she said. “He promised it was a loan and said it would be returned to me in three weeks.”
Investigators discovered a Facebook page that describes Abiee Global Exports is a New York-based car company. Public records list an Ahmed as an owner, but none of the listed phone numbers, including the number listed on a flier on the Aibee Global Facebook page, remain active.
The woman used several person finder websites in the days that followed to track down the person claiming to be Kenneth Hawkins. She told police that one site claimed that the man was a dangerous cult leader and that she should avoid trying to contact him, but police later determined that the sites were not legitimate and patrolman Brandon Mundel warned her to stop paying the websites for information.
A listing under a Facebook group called “Military Romance Scams” says that a man is posing as “Ken Hawkins” on a dating website. The posting includes several pictures of a man in military fatigues in a desert setting.
Mundell wrote that he believed that the person who convinced the woman to send him money was using a real person’s stolen identity, a 71-year-old Arizona man named Kenneth Hawkins with previous addresses in Ohio and Arizona.
The case remains under investigation.
A spokesman with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s website says there are telltale signs of a telephone scam:
-Being asked to wire money to a stranger or friend in need
-Being selected for a mystery shopping job, especially if you never applied
-Pressure to “act now!”
-Being asked to buy a prepaid money card
-Sending money in advance to secure or insure a loan
-Winning a contest you’ve never heard of or entered
-Having to pay a fee to receive your “prize”
-Requests for your personal information
-Requests for a large down-payment
-A company that refuses to provide written information
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