A Helena woman is out $1,000 after being caught in an online romance scam.
According to police, the woman thought she was doing a favor for a man she had been communicating with online.
However, that favor turned into a wire fraud scam.
When all was said and done, the woman had transferred a $1,000 for delivery charges through Western Union, only to find out that she would be responsible for wiring money from someone else's credit card.
Lt. Corey Livesay, an investigator for the Helena Police Department, explained, "In this one, they think that they are wiring it to a place in New Jersey, when in fact this money is being picked up by a person in Nigeria. And when they discover this they feel embarrassed, and they feel completely taken advantage of, which they have been. And in a lot of these instances they are going to be the ones ultimately responsible because the individuals in another country fall outside a lot of the jurisdictional boundaries where we can hold them accountable."
Livesay says never wire money to people you don't know for any reason.
Learn more about this type of online scam at RomanceScam.com, including this overview:
You or someone you know may be dating this person online right now. However, be warned. Things aren't what they appear to be. In reality you're talking to a criminal sitting in a cybercafe with a well rehearsed script he's used many times before. He's hunting through chat rooms, dating sites and social networking sites searching for victims, looking to cash in on romance. If you are over 40, recently divorced, a widow, elderly or disabled then all the better in his eyes. Scammers are adept at psychological profiling, and use any weakness they find to their advantage.
It's the newest evolution of the Nigerian advance fee (419) scam. Instead of sending spam letters that promise millions for your assistance, these scammers are targeting single men and women who are searching for love online.
They use psychological tricks to lure their victims in, use poetry and even gifts to get them under their spell, then once you are there, will try to reach for your wallet, all the time declaring their "undying love" for you. The scam may take the form of asking you to cash a cheque for them through your bank account because they are "out of the country" and unable to cash it themselves, or they may come right out and ask you to send money to help them out of a fabricated "financial difficulty" they claim to be experiencing.