An elderly man was reportedly scammed out of nearly $150,000 after falling prey to a con artist who convinced him he was in an online relationship.
The unnamed 84-year-old Roswell, Georgia man lost the money after being duped into thinking he was in a long-distance relationship with a woman in Dubai, according to a Friday report from WSB. Family members learned of the scam when they noticed text messages from the fraudster after the man was admitted to the hospital.
“There may have been some kind of false pretense or something that led to this individual sending a lot of money,” Roswell police spokesman Sean Thompson told WSB.
“We always preach that you should never send money to anyone you’ve never met and really you shouldn’t be talking to anybody you’ve never met in person,” Thompson added.
Police are said to looking at the case with the aid of computer forensics and could involve federal authorities in the investigation.
Newsweek reached out to the Roswell Police Department for additional information but did not receive a response in time for publication.
A similar scenario was reported earlier in the month, after an 80-year-old Oregon man lost $200,000 in an online dating scam, according to KATU. The con artist is believed to have stolen the identity of a Florida woman, using it on an online dating site to eventually convince the man he was in a long-distance relationship.
The man was then baited into agreeing to support a phony business scheme involving an ornate lion statue being transported from China to a U.S. art gallery. The man deposited large amounts of money into five separate bank accounts thinking he would be reimbursed and given a share of profits from the sale of the nonexistent sculpture.
“Romance scams typically target older individuals, gain their trust, then ask for money through social media and dating websites,” Andrew Stolfi, an official with the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation, told the outlet. “Unfortunately, victims often wire funds overseas or to third-party transfer agents, making it difficult to track the money and identify the con artist.”
Online romance scams are a very common method of extracting money from vulnerable people. Aside of fake business opportunities, scenarios involving manufactured medical emergencies are sometimes used to convince victims to hand over their money.
Experts say the elderly are targeted not only because they are sometimes thought to be less savvy online, but also because often have more money to steal than younger people.
Romance scams are the most common type of scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission, who say victims lost $201 million from the from the scams in 2019.