A Florida woman was scammed out of $25,000 by a dating site scammer who told her he was a US military officer in Afghanistan who needed the dough to get back home.
Susan Rizzo, of Fort Lauderdale, told NBC 6 this week that she was smitten by the handsome man she met on Plenty of Fish and decided to send him the money because she felt a spark.
“I sent the money because after two months of communicating I felt I was developing a relationship that felt real,” Rizzo told the news outlet about the con man, who claimed to be named Nicholas Shawn Wells Edwards.
The cruel Casanova told the infatuated woman that he needed the $25,000 for his trip back to South Florida – saying he had spent all his money getting from Afghanistan to Israel after the military’s humiliating and deadly pullout from the Taliban-controlled country.
“I sent the first amount of money feeling it was right based on where we were at,” Rizzo said.
“He had gone to Falluja, Mosul, and was going to end up in Khandahar,” she told NBC 6. “Yes, and he told me on different missions he had lost men from his group and he was considered the military anthropologist so he was in a relatively safe position.”
As the couple spoke on the phone, Rizzo felt like they were falling in love — and she even made plans to attend the wedding of one of his relatives.
“I feel my life is in limbo while waiting for your safe return,” she wrote him on Aug. 14, according to the outlet.
He quickly replied: “A lot didn’t go as planned … a lot of decision making amongst most of the special ops soldiers,” adding later, “Except there’s a problem about my return because there’s a provision to it that needs me to handle my own private flight arrangement.
The trusting woman then followed his directions and transferred $25,000 into his bank account, but became suspicious when the louse also asked her for $300,000 as part of a business deal for the couple.
The instructions the person sent Rizzo included an address for a townhouse in Atlanta, NBC 6 said. Georgia records show the name for the company mentioned in the instructions comes back to the same address and the bank is nearby.
The sloppy directions also mentioned “beneficial” instead of “beneficiary” and “routine number” instead of “routing number” for the bank account, according to the report.
When she realized she’d been conned, Rizzo contacted the FBI and planned to speak with Fort Lauderdale police in efforts to get her money back.
“Unfortunately, conditions in the world right now are prime for these types of scams,” Michael D’Angelo, who runs Secure Direction Consulting, told the outlet.
“With the whole pandemic, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s just perfect time to appeal to people’s empathy so we are seeing a lot of these online scams popping up all over the place,” he added.
Rizzo told the outlet that she decided to speak out to prevent other women from falling prey to such fraudsters.
“For somebody else to get taken like this emotionally and financially—it’s embarrassing. It’s hurtful,” she said.