GROTTOES – They say love is blind.
Recently, a Grottoes man found that out the hard way.
According to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, the 52-year-old man reported Wednesday that he’d been fleeced out of more than $40,000 by an online “girlfriend” he never met.
“He was pretty upset,” said Lt. Aaron Le Veck, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
Le Veck said the man met the woman in October while on an unidentified online dating site.
“Supposedly the woman was in Russia,” the lieutenant said.
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The two texted, emailed and even spoke by phone. Eventually, the woman told the man she’d inherited “family valuables,” a report said. But in order to have the valuables released to her, she needed money to cover certain transfer fees.
Between October and February, the man proceeded to wire $43,000 to the woman through several transactions, despite having never met her in person.
The man even received a “certificate of ownership for an inheritance,” Le Veck noted.
On Wednesday, after realizing he’d been victimized, the Grottoes man contacted the sheriff’s office. Le Veck said he expects the man to turn over all of his correspondence with the woman to investigators.
“Hopefully, we can get a clearer picture,” he said.
The Grottoes man isn’t the first local person to lose thousands of dollars in an online scheme and certainly won’t be the last. Earlier this month, an 80-year-old Stuarts Draft woman lost $18,500 in a classic grandparent scam, the sheriff’s office said.
In July, it was reported that a Waynesboro woman sent $35,000 to a supposed love interest she met online.
Also, a year ago this month it was revealed that an Augusta County woman was fleeced out of whopping $610,000 while involved in an online relationship.
“It happens all too often,” Le Veck said. “If it’s somebody you’ve never met in person, I would suggest you never send them money for any reason.”
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According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2019 the so-called romance scams were responsible for $201 million in losses in the United States, a six-fold increase compared to 2015 and the number one ranked consumer fraud.
“Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, often for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often claim to be in the military and stationed abroad, which explains why they can’t meet in person. Pretending to need help with travel costs for a long-awaited visit is another common ruse,” the FTC said.
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