KCBD Investigates: Woman promised $6.5M realized the scam before it was too late
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Barbara Scott’s children are grown and out of the house with children of their own.
“You don’t get letters or phone calls from your kids, grandkids anything anymore, it doesn’t happen. It’s all Facebook,” Scott said.
And with the death of her husband seven years ago, life can seem lonely at times.
“In the good old days, my refrigerator was plastered with pictures and drawings and things that my babies made. Not anymore; I see it on the phone," Scott said.
Scott created a Facebook page where she stays up to date on all of her loved ones activities, but she recently received a friend request from someone she did not know.
The man claimed to be David Goldfein, a four-star general in the United States Air Force.
He told Scott he was stationed overseas, sending pictures of himself with other service members.
“I thought military, lonely, being the sucker that I am. I thought, ‘What is wrong with chatting with him and giving him encouragement to move on?'” Scott asked.
However, Scott’s attitude quickly changed.
“I researched the general, and guess what? The general exists and it is not this guy,” Scott said.
Scott did a quick Google search and found all of the photos this person sent her of the general, were easy to pull from the internet.
Scott called him out, and the person on the other side of the screen admitted he had lied, saying he was just looking for companionship.
“That is how it starts and the next thing you know, they are telling you things like they love you, they need you, they want you," Scott said.
That companionship came with a price.
“He sent me a picture of a lock box and in it, $6.5 million dollars,” Scott said.
The catch? Scott needed to pay the agent who would drop off that box of cash.
The number started at $5,000 then jumped to more than $15,000.
We visited Scott the day the exchange was scheduled to take place, but the agent never showed up.
Instead, he called Scott and asked her to wire him the money, then he would bring her the $6.5 million.
We were recording as Scott decided to pull the plug on the relationship, using voice to text to send whoever was on the other side of that screen a final message.
“I did not get the money," Scott said. "You have tried to scam me. We are definitely through,” Scott told him.
“I want people to understand, there are so many scams out there. It’s frustrating that they can get by with it and not get caught," Scott said.
Scott said she knows of people in her community who have fallen for this scam or something similar.
“Just looking for that cure for the little loneliness that you go through,” Scott said.
So, is Scott doing away with Facebook like she did the relationship?
“My first thought was,'No, I’m not going to stay on Facebook, I’m through with it.' Then I start thinking, ‘but what about the adorable pictures and the funny things and the sad things and their lives?’ I need to know what’s going on because I love them more than they will ever know,” Scott said.
Chris Grey is the Chief of Public Affairs for the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Command.
When we told him about the scam Scott came across, he was not surprised.
“It’s a multi-million dollar business,” Grey said. “Depending on how much money they have stolen from an individual, to be able to extradite them back to the United States, house them, charge them, that type of thing, it costs the government millions. Plus, most of these are working in countries where they are not really keeping any records,” Grey said.
While the likelihood of prosecution is slim, Grey still encourages people to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“They are tracking these and a lot of times, most of them are coming out of foreign countries, but sometimes there are individuals who are being used within the United States as mules or go-betweens, that type of thing. Some people have been prosecuted," Grey said.
Grey said some scammers have contacted people claiming they need money for leave papers or hospitalization, which is a red flag.
Another red flag? If someone contacts you through social media and says that is their only way to communicate.
Grey said to confirm the person really is who they claim to be, have them send you an e-mail from their work account, which will end in .mil.
“If the person says, ‘I can’t do that, I’m on top secret mission or I don’t have an e-mail address,' they will know right away it’s a fraud,” Grey said.
For additional online romance scam information from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, click here.
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