“Over several months, the con artist convinced the elderly man that they were in a long-distance romantic relationship, and proposed an opportunity to support an art gallery in Florida,” the statement said. “The widower even received fabricated documents detailing the contract with the museum and bank statements. Relying on the documents and his romantic relationship, the victim made a series of payments over five months to various individuals and overseas bank accounts totaling more than $200,000.”
While the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation did not name the victim, it said he believed he was contributing toward a $5 million fee to ship a 500-ton marble lion sculpture from China. The con artist said the investments would be repaid along with a percentage of the profits from the sale of the sculpture.
Investigators haven’t had much success tracking down the scammer. Victims often wire funds overseas or to third-party transfer agents, making it difficult to get the money back and identify the con artist, said Andrew Stolfi, administrator for the Division of Financial Regulation.