Dating Scam Victim Gave Scammer $1.5M in Life Savings, Daughter Says | #datingscams | #lovescams

By IE Staff

First Published: 3:39 PM PDT, April 22, 2024

The daughter of a widowed woman who was found dead under what she claims are mysterious circumstances says her mother gave her entire life savings of $1.5 million to the grifter. Now, she’s speaking out to warn of the dangers of romance scams.

Laura Kowal, 57, joined and fell in love with a man named Frank, her daughter, Kelly Gowe told CBS News.

“My mom felt the emotions of feeling love and having companionship just through email. I know a lot of people out there saying, ‘How could that happen?’” Gowe told the outlet.

Gowe says her mother ended up wiring a scammer her entire life savings of $1.5 million.

The 57-year-old thought she was in love with a Swedish businessman but the profile picture the scammer used was stolen and the man in the picture had nothing to do with the scam.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod tells Inside Edition the online dating scam is taking on a new sinister turn.

“Somebody will be victimized and they’ll send this money. Maybe they’ll send something that gives the scammer some leverage and the scammer will turn around and say, ‘Alright, I need your help, now you’re going to be part of the scam,’” Axelrod says.

Axelrod says Kowal became what federal investigators call a money mule.

“We’re working really hard every single day to make sure people are authentic,” the CEO of Match Group, one of the largest online dating companies, told Axelrod.

And then, she disappeared

Gowe searched her mother’s home in Galena, Illinois, but could find no trace of her mother, who left behind her dog.

Two days later, investigators found Kowal’s body 250 miles away in the Mississippi River. Her death was ruled a drowning. Gowe is now on a mission to retrace her mother’s final steps. She wonders whether foul play was involved.

The upcoming CBS investigation into romance scams is set to air Tuesday on CBS Mornings and the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.

Match Group says they spend $125 million annually protecting customers from potential scammers, adding they take down 44 phony profiles per minute.

“Over the last several years, Match Group has taken steps to help prevent and warn users of potential scams or fraud using automated tools to detect suspicious language and proactively intervene,” a spokesperson for Match Group said in a statement. “We have also implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams with technology, created tips and the common behaviors of scammers to help users identify potential scams so they can help stay safe and protected while online.”

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