Daughter claims elderly mom taken for $600,000 in romance scam – WFTV | #datingscams | #lovescams

ORLANDO, Fla. — A central Florida woman is dealing with a heart wrenching situation involving a romance scam. The scam cost her elderly mother hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Scrolling social media can be an enjoyable way to connect with the world, but it can also be a gateway to heartbreak and financial ruin.

The woman who shared her story with Action 9 didn’t want her face shown, but wanted people to be aware of what happened to her mother.

Talking about her mom she said, “She says she’s engaged and they’re gonna get married.”

All of this stemmed from a romance scam that started on social media.

She said, “I think it’s more common than we know because people don’t want to talk about it.”

Her mother lost almost everything after she sparked the online relationship with someone who claimed to be the face of Space X and Tesla, Elon Musk.

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“They hear that voice. They hear Elon Musk’s voice and they know it’s his voice,” she said. She believes the voice could be manipulated by using artificial intelligence.

First there were wire transfers with huge amounts of money going out. At least one of the wire transfers topped $100,000 according to bank records she showed Action 9. Then there were daily ATM withdrawals of $3,000 a day. Much of that cash was spent on gift cards for the scammers.

In late 2022, her mother’s life savings of $600,000 started dwindling. By early 2023, it was too late for her to do anything. She happened to see a statement on the counter showing her mother had just $60,000 left and the money kept slipping away. Her mother told her she was investing it with Elon Musk.

“She lost a total of $600,000 from what I can tell. I know that her credit cards are maxed out and she bought gift cards on all of her credit cards,” she explained.

Unfortunately, it’s not a unique story according to Christopher Maxwell, a reformed scammer from Nigeria.

“I look for their trust. I want my victim to trust me,” Maxwell said during an online interview from Nigeria.

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Maxwell now works to help educate people while working with Social Catfish, an online dating investigation service. For him romance scams were the easiest. He used popular social media platforms and looked for older divorced women who he believed were more vulnerable.

He said, “You know when they’re divorced, they need someone to love them.”

Often posing as a soldier he would make women fall in love with him and start extracting their money. Scammers often impersonate celebrities to scam their victims, too. That’s what happened in this case.

The scam victim’s daughter said, “I have seen texts on her phone that say, ‘Hey, baby, how are you? What are you doing tonight, baby?’” She said her mother was giddy like a school girl. But now her mom is living on social security and financial stress on the family is mounting. She wants others to be aware of these types of scams before it happens to them.

She said, “It’s like you want to walk out of your her house and scream or cry. It’s so frustrating.”

In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission reported $1.3 billion dollars in romance scam losses in the U.S., but since many of these go unreported they believe that’s likely a small fraction of what people actually lost.

If you fall victim to a romance scam, contact the F.B.I. and the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint right away. Also, report it to the social media company where you met the scammer.

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