Man loses $200K in catfish online-dating scam over artwork
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Officials are warning of online dating service scams after an Oregon man lost money believing he was entering a personal and business relationship with a person posing as a Florida woman.
The 80-year-old man was convinced to hand over $200,000 for what he believed to be an investment to bring a piece of art to a Florida art gallery, according to the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation.
The scammer stole a Florida woman's identity and, over several months, developed a long-distance romantic relationship with the man, officials said.
“Romance scams typically target older individuals, gain their trust, then ask for money through social media and dating websites,” said Andrew Stolfi, division administrator. “Unfortunately, victims often wire funds overseas or to third-party transfer agents, making it difficult to track the money and identify the con artist.”
The scammer proposed a business investment opportunity, complete with forged supporting financial documents, to cover transportation costs for bringing what was described as a 500-ton marble lion sculpture from China to a Florida art gallery.