OREGON (KPTV) — Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is warning people about elaborate romance scams after an elderly man lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Officials said an unidentified person, who stole a Florida woman’s identity, befriended an 80-year-old widower through an online dating service and persuaded him to send money for a business opportunity.
The scammer convinced the man that they were in a long-distance relationship and told him about an opportunity to support an art gallery in Florida.
Officials said the scammer then pretended to seek investors to cover $5 million in transportation costs to ship a 500-ton marble lion sculpture from China. The scammer allegedly promised the investments would be returned.
After receiving fabricated documents, officials said the Oregon man made a series a payments over five months to various bank accounts, including overseas accounts.
According to officials, the man was catfished out more than $200,000 and lost his entire investment.
The scammer has not been located.
Officials would like to remind people to protect themselves from falling for an investment scam by following these tips:
Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person, and be cautious about sharing personal or financial information.
Do not transfer money to unknown people or intermediaries. If you need to use a third party to send money, use a licensed money transmitter.
Keep copies of all communications with scammers and report them to the division, the online dating site, the local police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission.
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