BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. (FOX 2) – It’s a rough dose of reality for an elderly Bloomfield Township man swindled out of over $56,000.
It began in November of last year when a 71-year-old man was looking for companionship on the dating website Zoosk. He chatted with three women – potential dates – over a three-month period.
“They’re thieves. They’re cons,” said Lt. Paul Schwab, Bloomfield Township police. “This is the what these people do for a living. The website catered to the elderly. They started to ask him for money.”
During the chats police say the first two scammers – separately – told the elderly man they needed help claiming inheritances.
“Our victim actually received a phone call from someone who was claiming to be an attorney, asking our victim to send money to a location in Africa,” Schwab said.
Another woman apparently told the man she was desperate to leave her abusive boyfriend and needed him to send money quickly for a trip overseas, hospital stays and car repairs.
“When you are elderly and in a stage of your life where you are looking for companionship, you are easy prey for these professional con artists,” Schwab said.
One of the women even asked him for $7,000, but asked to be paid with seven, one-thousand-dollar Apple gift cards.
“When our victim went to his bank to get the money out to get the gift cards, a very attentive bank teller started asking questions, what this was all about,” Schwab said.
The man then realized he’d been scammed and reported it to police.
Bloomfield Township police say scams like these are incredibly common, adding they get several a month. Unfortunately, it gets tough to track these thieves.
“Some of the names are fictitious, some of the names happen to be victims of other identity theft,” said Schwab. “Sometimes the addresses don’t exist.”
Bloomfield Township police are now trying to find those thieves and hopefully get some of that man’s money back. Schwab warning friends and family members of the elderly – to make sure they know the red flags of a romance – scam.
“It’s almost a perfect storm,” he said. “Because you have someone who is elderly and new to technology, so when they are asked to give their Social Security Number or their banking information, they feel that is the thing to do and think that’s how it works today.”