Voice of the consumer: Woman who was scammed out of $95,000 hopes to educate others

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 7:20 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - I have to tell you about a local woman who lost more than $95,000 to a scammer. She called our newsroom and agreed to let me share part of her story in hopes that it would educate other people and prevent them from losing money.

The woman told me a man she didn’t know added her as a friend on Facebook last October and then started talking to her over Messenger. After a few days, he asked her to switch from Facebook to Google Hangouts. The man said it was for “security” reasons and he deleted his Facebook account.

The man, who turned out to be a scammer, would talk to the woman over the internet often. He claimed to be a U.S. doctor working in Afghanistan for the United Nations. She told me he would call her pet names like “honey,” “babe,” and “queen.” He claimed he was a rich doctor who would take care of her when he returned to the States. The woman said it was everything she wanted to hear.

The man eventually started asking her for money through Bitcoin. His first ruse was that there was a box with $4.2 million in it that he needed help getting. The scammer claimed if the woman gave him money to help get the box, she would get the millions. The woman ended up paying the man about $30,000 as part of this scheme.

This scammer continued to exploit the woman. After she got suspicious of sending him Bitcoin, he switched to asking for gift cards and merchandise, like cellphones. He would also tell her he needed data to be able to keep talking to her, so she sent him money for that.

After speaking on the phone with me and calling some of the resources I recommended, the woman said she finally blocked the man from contacting her. She told me she reported what happened to the FBI and the Colorado Springs Police Department. Even though the woman knows she probably will never get her money back, she told me she hopes her situation teaches other people to know what red flags to look for.

I spoke with Colorado Springs police Sgt. Joe Matiatos. He supervises the Financial Crimes Unit and told me scams like this are very hard to follow up on. He always recommends people file reports, but said if the scammers are operating out of the country, it’s not in their jurisdiction to investigate.

If you believe you fell victim to a scam, don’t be ashamed. Scammers are calculating. They know exactly what to say to get people to do what they want. It’s important to speak up if you believe you were taken advantage of. If you lost money, make sure to report it to your local police department or sheriff’s office. You can also report scams and fraud to the AARP Fraud Watch Network by calling 877-908-3360.

You can hear more about this woman’s story on KKTV 11 News at 10 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.

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