A 66-year-old woman looking for love online ended up with a broken heart and bank account when she lost $500,000 to suitor on a Christian dating site. The San Jose divorcee met a Nigerian man on ChristianMingle.com falsely claiming to be Irish citizen ‘David Holmes’, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.
Holmes said he worked on a Scottish oil rig, and his profile picture turned out to be a picture of a male modeldownloaded from the internet. The two never met in person, but talked over the phone and Holmes even sent the woman flowers.
Eventually he convinced her to loan him $300,000 for his oil business – funds she supplied from her retirement account. After wiring him an additional $200,000 to a bank in Turkey, the woman got suspicious and informed the DA’s office.
Cherie Bourland of the elder fraud unit called the bank in Turkey and was successfully able to freeze the funds before Holmes’ associate Wisdom Onokpite showed up to withdraw the money, according to CBS San Francisco.
Onokpite was arrested by the Turkish National Police on suspicion of committing fraud. The DA’s office traced Holmes to Nigeria – a ‘hot bed of online scams’ – and he remains free.
While the woman was able to get her $200,000 back, Ms Bourland says there’s just a ‘1 per cent’ chance she’ll recover the over $300,000 because ‘it’s just impossible to track down’ and federal authorities won’t investigate losses below $1million.
Ms Bourland says reports of lost money on dating sites has been on the rise, especially among the elderly since ‘studies show the ability to make financial decisions is the first to be affected by aging.’
‘You get the love drug in you and you end up getting duped,’ she told the San Jose Mercury News.