Woman’s online “beau” breaks the bank, to the tune of $315,000
A Stafford County woman was recently conned out of $315,000 by a man who pretended to have a romantic interest in her, court records show.
The woman, who is in her 60s, contacted the county Sheriff’s Office late last month, and Detective Eric Chinault is conducting an investigation.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant that Chinault filed in Stafford Circuit Court, the woman created a profile on the dating website Match.com earlier this year.
On Jan. 29, she received a message from someone using the online moniker “Liftedandblessed,” who expressed interest in her. He told her his name was Benjamin Rosenberg and that he lived in Florida.
They exchanged phone numbers, the affidavit states, and began having conversations. At some point, according to the affidavit, the man told the woman that he had access to an auction website where he could buy government bonds with an 8 percent interest rate.
He then encouraged the woman to liquidate her assets and wire them to him for investment.
Chinault wrote that he reviewed auction results on a U.S. Treasury website and the highest recent interest rate listed was 3.625 percent for a 30-year bond.
On Feb. 10, the victim wired $151,000 from her NSWC Federal Credit Union account to an account in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that the man had provided.
On Feb. 28, she sent another $164,000 to another bank account, this one in Miramar, Fla. Chinault found that the addresses of the real banks did not match those provided by “Rosenberg.”
Two weeks after the latter transaction, the man began asking for more money. He inquired about the victim’s mother’s assets and claimed that with more money, he could get an even better rate on the bonds.
He promised to provide the victim with all necessary documentation when they met in person, and the victim began trying to arrange a meeting.
Chinault wrote that the man began making excuses not to meet, including going on a European vacation and being in the hospital. She last spoke with the man on March 27, when he told her they would get together as soon as he was released from the hospital. The victim has been unable to reach the man since.
The search warrant allows Match.com to provide Chinault registration information, the Internet Protocol address and other information about “Liftedandblessed.” It is linked to a business based in Dallas.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404