HOUSTON – Greg Davis is a busy man with two jobs. Admittedly, he doesn’t find time to meet women.
He decided to try online dating and quickly got results.
“I met the girl on match.com,” Davis said.
She was a knockout from Chicago and introduced herself as “Malikah.” Davis was drawn to the exotic-looking woman, and she seemed just as smitten.
“She pursued me, too, so I was like, ‘This is it,'” he recalled. “This is how it works.”
It didn’t take long for their online romance to graduate to emails, phone calls and a slew of provocative pictures.
One day, a will arrived in Davis’ inbox. “Malikah” said her father had died and left her millions of dollars overseas. She just needed him to front some cash for taxes and shipping.
“It was increments of $5,000, $10,000,” he said. “It was also spent trying to pay for the fine that was on the money in storage.”
By the time we spoke with Greg, he had been talking to “Malikah” and sending money for two years.
In 2016, the FBI said that 1,000 Texans reported being victims of the romance scam. Their loss is more than $16 million. Nationally, almost 15,000 victims forked over more than $230 million.
The crime is growing.
Sgt. Josh Nowitz is a certified scam examiner. He works at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“They put a million hooks in the water, and all they have to do is catch a couple to make it profitable for them,” he said.
Sgt. Nowitz said each romance scam case is unique but they all lead to the scammer asking for something.
“They’ll build up some sort of a relationship with this person through text through emails or sometimes even through Skype,” he said. “They’ll actually employ actors and things like that and so they’ll build up the relationship before asking for favors.”
In Greg’s case, he drained his retirement, maxed out credit cards and took out more than a dozen payday loans.
His total loss is nearly $80,000.
“I feel kind of stupid,” Greg admits.
You see, he asked for proof that the inheritance was real.
He was sent a video.
In that video, a heavy-accented man is holding a stack of cash. There are rows of 100 dollar bills with “GREGORY” printed on every single note.
This was the moment Davis realized he was scammed.
As for that mystery woman, she could be anyone, but the pictures sent to Davis matched what we found on a Facebook page for a Colombian porn star.
“Make sure you’re actually face-to-face with that person you’re supposed to be dealing with, because the internet dating thing, you don’t know what you’re getting,” he said