Craig woman scammed out of nearly $30K by promise of love, romance
March 3, 2017
Craig — It's hard to imagine a situation in which you could be coaxed into parting with nearly $30,000 of your hard-earned money and sending it to someone you've never met, but in today's world of internet scams, that's exactly what happened to one Craig woman.
Scams have been hitting local residents hard in recent months, resulting in thousands of dollars of lost savings, often targeting seniors.
"It seems like scams are just running rampant right now, more than usual," said Craig Police Commander Bill Leonard.
The nature of this scam preyed on loneliness and ill-placed trust in an internet persona who promised a Craig woman love and romance, so long as she proffered up enough money to help him deal with supposed "complications."
The police department did not want to reveal the woman’s name, fearful that she could be an easy target for other scammers.
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"The internet has a lot of great value but it has also created a wealth of ways for people to defraud other people and make them victims of crime," said Craig Chief of Police Walt Vanatta. "It's virtually impossible to keep up with them because they just keep thinking of new things."
The incident was reported to police Feb. 24 by a friend of the woman, though it appeared to have been going on for weeks or months prior to the report.
She had been communicating with someone who went by the name "Seth Hunter" via the internet. He convinced her he was a soldier in the U.S. Army deployed overseas and promised he would return to the U.S. and be with her.
"Probably the two most-used tools by the scammers is (promising) instant wealth and… romance," Leonard said.
Then "complications" arose that required money to resolve. She sent him between $28,000 and $30,000 in Western Union transfers to Ghana, Africa and one United States Postal Service money order to New Jersey. It's unclear exactly how many transfers were sent, in what amounts, or over what course of time.
She stated that "when she questioned this, Seth had reasons for everything and he would 'play' on her emotions," according to the police report.
An officer attempted to communicate with the man using the woman's online accounts, but he immediately got defensive once he started to probe.
Unfortunately, the victim of the crime is financially drained, but there is little chance the funds can be recovered once they've left the country.
"She's probably not (going to recover that money), which is the really sad part about it," Vanatta said. "Some people lose their life savings and there's absolutely no recourse, which is frustrating for us because we feel compassion for them, but there's really nothing you can do."