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Elderly Widower Bilked Of $200,000 By False Lover

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Brian Bull
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KLCC

An 80-year-old Portland man’s online romance was not only fake, it gave him a broken bank account as well as a broken heart.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, authorities warn against Valentine’s Day scammers.

The man was swindled out of $200,000, after months of exchanges with a con artist posing as a Florida woman.  The victim was wooed, charmed, and swayed to help cover $5 million in shipping costs for a giant marble lion sculpture from China, presumably to support a Florida art gallery.  Only there was no such effort.

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Credit Provided by Oregon Dept of Consumer & Business Services
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Photo of a giant lion sculpture used in the romance scam.

Brad Hilliard of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services says the man lost his entire investment, and the scammer remains at large.

“The best advice is, if you have not met someone actually in person, don’t send them money," warns Hilliard.  "These scams  target elderly people looking for relationships, looking for conversations with people.  And it really goes after that willingness to trust someone.”

People suspecting a scam should keep records of all communications and report them to authorities as well as the dating site. 

Funds wired overseas or to third-party transfer agents are difficult for investigators to track.  Officials say if you have to use a third party for sending money, use a licensed money transmitter.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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