‘Peaks Scam’: Aurora, Illinois Woman Realizes She’s Cheated After Watching Netflix Show

AURORA, Illinois – A woman from Aurora, Illinois said a man she met online defrauded her of more than $ 90,000.

Kathy, who asked to share only her first name, said she did not realize she was being played until she saw the popular Netflix show “The Tinder Swindler”, but by that time she had already spent all her life saving .

She said that after nearly two years of staying home during the pandemic, she was lonely.

“And it made me think. If something like this happened, you know again, I do not want to be alone. You know, I want someone here,” Kathy said.

So she decided to try online dating and signed up for SilverSingles, a site for people 50 years and older. She said she met a handsome elderly gentleman who swept her away from her.

“I thought I was in love, because every time I heard from him, my heart would just spring up. And it was interesting, exciting,” she said. “And after every phone call before we hung up, we took turns asking, and even that he was really sweet.”

Kathy said he wooed her with messages like “Good morning wife, I hope you had a good night’s sleep” and “I love you more than you can ever imagine.”

But she never met her new love in person.

“I asked to meet him. And he said, ‘Well, I’m going to work in Toronto and I have to go fast,'” Kathy said. “A few weeks after he was there in Toronto, reportedly, he said, ‘I need these permits to work here, and I need $ 5,000 for this permit. And they will not take a check or anything.’ “So I think, yes, I want to help this man. You know, I’m falling in love with him. Why would I not help them?”

Kathy said she sent him $ 5,000 for the permit. Then she gave him more money after he got into an accident. And then she gave even more money for his surgery.

“And I said, ‘I do not have that kind of money.’ And then we started talking about where we could get that money. And he kept making suggestions, you know, so I ended up doing a refinancing. and draw money against my house, “she said.

And when he needed more money for his various accidents, she said she took out a loan and sent him the money.

Kathy said the love of her life sent her a screenshot of his bank account showing he had the money to pay her back. And even though she still had not met him in person, she had faith that he would soon be with her.

Then one night she said her friend recommended she watch “The Tinder Swindler” on Netflix, where several women said they lost thousands of dollars to a man they met online. And that was when everything clicked.

“I say ‘Oh my god,’ she remembered. “Everything fit together.”

“I’re depriving Peter of paying Paul so I can get this payment in because he also ruined my credit,” Kathy said. “I was thrown out of my bank. They closed my account and they were afraid I was laundering money.”

The total amount she sent him is sober.

“Just over $ 92,000,” Kathy said.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, people have reported in the last five years that they have lost a staggering $ 1.3 billion due to romance scams, the highest of any FTC scam category.

In fact, money lost to romance scams has increased sixfold from 2017 to 2021.

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said reports of online dating scams went up during the pandemic but are still grossly underreported.

“Some feel they are really embarrassed that their family will find out, and some that we have talked to still believe they exist and they will get out of the woodwork again,” Bernas said. “People are losing their life savings and it’s all being done by a scammer who does this to hundreds of people.”

Our sister station WLS-TV has chosen not to show a picture of Kathy’s love interest because most of these scammers steal pictures online to attract you.

The bottom line, Bernas said, is that you can not fall in love with someone you have never met.

“And there’s always a reason they can not meet you. And that’s what we call the tip to rip off,” Bernas said.

It was a sober realization for Kathy, who still can not believe she fell in love with a scammer. Now she is paying what she can on her loans, and has deferred her upcoming pension until she can get out of debt.

SilverSingles warns its users that if someone online asks you to send them money, stop communicating with them and report the profile.

Full statement from Spark Network, parent company of SilverSingles:

Safety is always a top priority in everything we do, across all our brands at Spark Network. When detecting possible fraudulent behavior, we use many countermeasures. Spark uses external AI-based tools, robust transaction detection, internal filters, and employs a significant, dedicated scam team for manual case review. Unfortunately, as with any online activity, there are “bad players” out there, but we remain dedicated to keeping our users safe on our platforms.

We also invest in user training, as stated on the security pages of our sites (see links below), because it is crucial to arm our community / audience with the right tools to mitigate the risks of online dating. We also refer our users to the Federal Trade Commission’s website for online dating scams: http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0004-online-dating-scams.

Dating should be fun, so we want to ensure that our platforms are a safe and comfortable place for our users. We encourage any user who suspects someone they are in contact with or if they find themselves in any of the following situations to stop communicating immediately and report the account to our customer service team.

Below is a list identified by our fraud / security team of potentially related behaviors that should be reported to our customer service team.

  • If there is an immediate request for external communication within the first messages, mostly via email, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts or Skype.
  • If the suspected scammer asks for contact information because they are “taking down their profile”.
  • If the message of the suspected scammer appears to be very generic and not personal.
  • If the suspected scammer uses overly loving or complimenting language, especially in the initial stages of communication.
  • If the message is written with poor grammar and misspellings.
  • If there are any requests for money, regardless of the amount.
  • If there are any requests to log in to their bank account “for” them.
  • If there are any statements stating that the suspected scammer is currently abroad.
  • If there are any statements that a suspected scammer’s loved one is ill or injured and they need funds to help them.
  • If the suspected scammer comes up with excuses as to why they can not meet in person or FaceTime / Skype.
  • If the user receives emails from the suspected scammer that they are leaving the site, but their friend / colleague / family member saw the user’s profile and wants the user to contact them.
  • Further information on safe online dating can be found on our security pages:

    https://www.zoosk.com/safety
    https://www.silversingles.com/about/safety
    https://www.elitesingles.com/staying-safe
    https://about.christianmingle.com/en/safety-en/

    Thank you for contacting us about this important topic.

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