Match CEO Bernard Kim sparks outrage with callous response to shocking rise in romance scams | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

By Joe Hutchison and Rachel Bowman For Dailymail.Com

18:08 27 Apr 2024, updated 18:18 27 Apr 2024

  • CEO Bernard Kim said ‘things happen in life’ when asked about romance scams 
  • It follows Laura Kowal was scammed out of $1.5 million and turned up dead 
  • Law enforcement say dating sites are fueling the amount of romance scams 

The CEO of has said that ‘things happen in life’ after an Illinois widower was found dead following a romance scam. 

Laura Kowal, 57, had been in a relationship with a man she met on the site called ‘Frank Borg’ for more than a year when she was discovered dead in the Mississippi RIver in August 2020. 

Daughter Kelly Gowe, received a call from a federal agent notifying her that her mother had been a victim of a scam and when she tried to contact her mother she discovered that she was missing. 

Speaking to CBS News, Gowe revealed she found records showing that Kowal had wired Borg – who was not real – $1.5 million and left her a haunting note.  

Following a yearlong investigation by CBS News into online romance scams like the one Kowal was caught up in, the outlet managed to catch up with CEO Bernard Kim. 

When asked about those who had lost their life savings to scammers, he told the outlet: ‘Things happen in life. That’s really difficult.’

When asked about those who had lost their life savings to scammers, he told the outlet: ‘Things happen in life
Laura Kowal (pictured), 57, mysteriously drowned in the Mississippi River after being scammed out of $1.5 million by a man she met online

Kim continued: ‘I have a tremendous amount of empathy for things that happen, but our job is to keep people safe on our platforms; that is top foremost, most important thing to us.’

The investigation by the outlet uncovered how overseas-based criminals had managed to steal more than $1 billion last year from victims. 

Senior law enforcement officials told CBS that the scams are not new, but are being accelerated by the easy access con artists have to vulnerable, lonely Americans, who use dating apps.

In the note to her daughter, Kowal wrote: I’ve been living a double life this past year. It has left me broke and broken. 

‘Yes, it involves Frank, the man I met through online dating. I tried to stop this, many times, but I knew I would end up dead.’

On August 7, 2020, Kowal’s body was discovered near Canton, Missouri – nearly four hours from her home in Galena, Illinois – and her car was recovered nearly 50 miles from her body, reported WTVO. 

No formal ruling has been given for Kowal’s manner of death, but her autopsy determined she died by drowning. 

‘It’s the scammers, It’s the criminals behind those emails. It’s Frank Borg… this character. He killed my mom,’ Gowe said.

Gowe found records that showed Kowal had wired Borg $1.5 million and a haunting note from her mother that claimed she knew she would end up dead
Borg’s photos belonged to a Chilean doctor
Emails sent by Borg were traced to Ghana
No formal ruling has been given for Kowal’s manner of death, but her autopsy determined she died by drowning

‘And everyone that is involved in this scam in any capacity, that’s moving the money, that’s placing a phone call, that’s hitting “enter” and “send” on an email — they’re all responsible for my mom’s death.’ 

Emails shared to CBS News showed within weeks of virtually meeting in 2018, Kowal and Borg were sharing emails telling each other they were in love despite having never met in person and he convinced her to send him money.

‘She had all these buckets full in her life, my mom did, but there was this one bucket that was missing and that was companionship. And that’s ultimately where we’re at now, is because of that,’ Gowe said.

According to her obituary, Kowal loved tending to her flower and vegetable gardens, participating in local golf leagues and volunteering through therapy dog work with her beloved golden doodle Effie at a nursing home.

Federal agents discovered that Borg’s photos belonged to a Chilean doctor and his emails were traced back to Ghana. 

Nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission, a government watchdog.

Reported losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion and on average, victims lost $4,400.

‘Digital tools are making it easier than ever to target hard-working Americans, and we see the effects of that in the data,’ said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Romance scammers are routinely setting up fake social media profiles to target victims online.

A former scammer from Ghana, seen here, told CBS that without the dating sites you cannot scam anyone

They engage in a lengthy campaign – which often involves hours of messaging every day – to build up a relationship with the victim before turning the conversation to money.

In some instances, the crooks will present an investment opportunity, or ask for funds for a fake medical procedure or charitable endeavor.

So-called ‘pig butchering’ scams fall under this category, where victims are effectively ‘fattened up’ with a fake relationship before being ‘butchered’ by fraudulent investment advice. 

One former scammer from Ghana told CBS: ‘You cannot do anything without those online dating sites.’

Match Group, which operates a number of popular dating sites, say they have expanded their security posture and invests over $125 million a year to protect customers. 

The company also say they succeed in removing 96 percent of fake accounts within one day. 

The company disputes an allegation by the Federal Trade Commission which said in a lawsuit that as many as 30 percent of profiles were opened to commit fraud. 

Match Group said they did not believe the claim had merit and that it was not legally responsible for the interactions between scammers and their victims. 

A judge dismissed the portion of the case that tried to hold the group accountable for fraud activity on their sites.  

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