OKLAHOMA CITY - It begins with a simple Facebook request.
Mary was a new widow and feeling lonely and vulnerable.
“He was also supposedly a widower, and the other thing was he also had a young daughter and, being an OB nurse for many years, children are something that bring me great joy,” she said.
They started messaging and texting back and forth.
The man used a fake passport and stolen pictures to gain Mary's trust, then he started asking her for money.
“He said ‘My daughter, and I are very hungry. Would there be any way you can help us?’ He said ‘$500 would be very helpful,’ so I sent him $500.”
Mary says she was sending the man money at least twice a month.
The more she wired, the more outrageous the scammer's stories.
“They were on a bus going to some place in Nigeria, and a militant gang took over the bus, set it on fire,” Mary said. “He was in prison, because he had stolen food to feed him and his daughter.”
By the time she figured out her new friend was a Nigerian fraudster, he had drained her life insurance policy and retirement nearly $100,000.
Sarah freeman's mom is hearing impaired and has a mental handicap, which made her an easy target.
Scammers keep targeting her on Facebook and Yahoo Messenger.
“She went to Maryland to meet one of these guys,” Sarah said. “She got up there, and he just never showed up.”
After she wired the scammers her disability money, the family staged an intervention.
They took her phone away.
“It's heartbreaking for her, but she's sending all of her money to these guys, like we've been the ones having to buy food for her, because she can't afford to buy food for herself,” Sarah said. “It affects the entire family.”
The scammers cruise Facebook and dating sites, shopping for victims all day long.
The In Your Corner bottom line:
- Many of these bad guys have ties to terrorist groups and drug and gun traffickers in West Africa.
- You could be funding their illegal operations and not even know it.
- Verify pics online using Google’s Image Search.
- Here’s another great tool to find out whether or not a photo is fake.
- Another great read about scammers and their tricks to steal your heart and money.