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Rochester woman out $57,000 in romance scam

Over the course of three months, the woman sent $57,000 in gift cards before realizing she had fallen prey to a scammer. She reported the loss to police on Feb. 3, 2022.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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ROCHESTER — A Rochester woman lost $57,000 after falling prey to a scammer in a romance scheme.

The 69-year-old woman reported the incident to Rochester police on Feb. 3, 2022, about four months after the scam began.

The woman reported to police that she began chatting with someone online in November 2021 and that the pair would chat, sometimes for hours, over Google Hangouts, according to Capt. Casey Moilanen. It is unclear if the woman was chatting via text, voice or video.

"The victim in this case really felt like she was dealing with someone that cared about her," Moilanen said.

In early November, the woman began sending the man gift cards and that continued until Jan. 28, 2022. In that time frame, she spent $57,000 on gift cards.

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With online romance scams, it is not uncommon for the scammer to state that they are having difficulty reaching the person for a visit and then asking for money to help complete the journey. In the Rochester woman's case, the scammer said he made it to Fort Worth, Texas, but fell ill and was unable to make it to Rochester. Another time, the scammer told the woman he made it to Minneapolis, but needed more money for gas and travel expenses and would pay her back. The woman realized it was a scam when she sent the funds and the man never showed up.

"Unfortunately these romance scams do happen," Moilanen said. "Scammers are willing to put in the time it takes to gain the trust of people in these cases and often times, we see much higher amounts of money scammed in romance scams because people have taken time to gain the trust (of their victim.)"

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Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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