Schemes & Rip Offs: Romance Scam - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Schemes & Rip Offs: Romance Scam

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She says she gave up everything for love, only to find out it was all a lie.  It's what investigators call the romance scam.

Carolyn Benningfield says she had the all-American life - an Air Force husband, two sons, and a middle class home.  But after her husband died three years ago, she felt lonely.

"I was looking for a good Christian man and I went on match.com," said Benningfield.

And after a few months and a few misses, Benningfield thought she found her match - a widow from another town who shared her Catholic faith.

"I thought my dreams had come true."

The two hit it off early this year, chatting online every day.  But soon the conversation turned to money, when the man said he'd lost his luggage on a business trip to Ecuador.

"He asked me if I could loan him $1,000."

So she did.  But as time went on the requests grew larger, he convinced Carolyn to invest thousands in his oil company. 

She sent dozens of transfers to different accounts he claimed were used by his company, $40,000 to a bank in New Zealand, 3,000 each to people in Russia and Ecuador.

She never met the man and now believes he was using a false identity.

"The banks tried to warn me but I decided not to believe what they said because in my heart I felt it was true."

In the end, Benningfield gave the scammer all she had, a total of almost $800,000.  She's also facing a potential tax lien on her home for emptying out her 401K.

Benningfield reported the fraud to Police, but since it involved international money transfers she had to take the case to the FBI.

Benningfield says she still keeps in touch with the man, in hopes that he might want to give some of the money back.

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