Online dating website ChristianMingle.com that advertises itself as a place where Christians can "Find God's Match for You," recently served up a devilish Nigerian conman to a 66-year-old San Jose, Calif., woman looking for love who duped her out of $500,000.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, which did not identify the woman, said the woman was lucky to recover $200,000 from a bank in Turkey, but warned that the case should serve as a warning about scams on international dating sites like ChristianMingle.com, according to a CBS report.
Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourland said the victim, who is a divorcee, befriended the Nigerian con man on ChristianMingle shortly after she joined the dating site. She, however, thought that she had befriended and Irish citizen working on a Scottish oilrig named "David Holmes," who was represented by a photo of a male model the con man downloaded from the Internet.
"You get the love drug in you and you end up getting duped," said Bourland.
"There had been phone calls. He [the con man] did not seem to have a Nigerian accent. He sent her flowers, but they never met in person," said Bourland.
It was soon discovered by the district attorney's office from the Skype account and email address belonging to the divorcee's fiendish love interest that he was actually living in Nigeria, "a hot bed of online scams," said Bourland.
He first convinced the love-struck woman to wire him $300,000 as a loan for his oil business. Most of that money she took from her retirement account and refinancing her home, according to prosecutors.
Soon after, she wired the con man another $200,000 sent to a bank in Turkey.
She later contacted the district attorney's office and Bourland was able to get the Turkish Bank to freeze the money.
Bourland said a Nigerian national who turned up to collect the money, identified as Wisdom Onokpite, was arrested by Turkish National Police at the bank on suspicion of committing fraud.
"When we heard someone had been arrested, our mouths dropped," said Bourland. "It was exciting."
Unfortunately for the love-seeking divorcee, Onokpite was discovered to be only an associate of the fictitious "David Holmes" who remains at large.
Bourland further explained that the woman only has a "1 percent" chance retrieving the missing $300,000 because "it's just impossible to track down," and federal authorities don't pursue cases under $1 million.