Widow Scammed by “Soldier”

It is one of online dating’s biggest pitfalls that it is unable to 100% detect those heartless individuals who join dating sites for the sole purpose of scamming unsuspecting singles out of money. For the most part, dating site staff only have “warning signs” and “red flags” that help them weed out scammers, but of course, those aren’t fool proof. Especially as those scammers become smarter and more sneaky, patrolling becomes more and more difficult.

So brings us to the sad story (that we’ve heard so many times before), of a widow Esther Ortiz-Rodeghero, who joined an online dating site to try and find love after her husband passed away. She met a man who claimed to be named Wayne Jackson, a soldier and widower who was, like Esther, looking for a new love in a lonely world. The two e-mailed nearly every day and talked of spending their lives together. Then, things took a nosedive. Via ABC News:

 “Wayne” began asking for money – first, a few hundred dollars to help his son, then thousands to launch a business, one he said the two of them would share and run together.

Ortiz-Rodeghero complied, sending money all over the world, she told ABC.

She cleaned out her personal savings, her husband’s life insurance and 401K. When she ran out of cash, she took out loans.

It wasn’t until Ortiz-Rodeghero sent her online companion money for a plane ticket to come see her in Castle Rock, Colo., and he never showed up, that she realized she was the victim of a scam.

This sad story ended with Ortiz-Rodeghero out $500,000 and a newfound promise to never use online dating again. Unfortunately, had she been more careful – not let her emotions get in the way of common sense, she may have bypassed this scammer and found true love online. For those like Esther, we hope they will remember the cardinal rule of online dating: NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, give money to someone you’ve only met online (and be very discerning even if you’ve met in person). You don’t want to be left with nothing because you had stars in yours eyes.

For more tips for ensuring you don’t get scammed online, check out some tips here.