A 46-year-old woman from Hillsboro, Ore., was scammed for $70,000 in cash and electronics by a man who claimed to be an Army doctor, but turned out to be a Nigerian con man, The Oregonian reports.
This scam is widespread, and regular readers may find the details eerily familiar. These guys are known to lift a real soldier’s photos and spin outlandish tales to prey on lonely-hearted women.
The scammer, who went by the name “Robert Smith Tyndall,” carried on a romantic relationship with the woman through Facebook, e-mail and by telephone, police said.
“Tyndall” claimed to be a 46-year-old from Kansas City stationed in Iraq, but said that he planned to move to Portland to join his familiy’s art and decorating business.
In a twist on the usual pattern, he asked for money not because he was in the war zone, but stuck in Nigeria after his discharge and trying to move African art through customs and in need of financial help.
After she sent a total of $72,431 in cash and electronics, which included 12 BlackBerry cellphones and 10 Apple iPods, she went to the police, who determined that “Tyndall” was a false identity and that his calls to the woman came from Nigeria.
We spoke to Lt. Mike Rouches, Hillsboro police spokesman, and this scammer’s story gets even more outrageous.
“Tyndall” told the woman, a 46-year-old bus driver, that he was both an Army doctor and a sergeant. To be in the Army medical corps, you must be an officer.
What’s more, when he spoke with her by phone, he had a Nigerian accent. I’m going to put that one in the category of possible, but unlikely.
The victims of these crimes are emotionally vulnerable, and this one was no different.
“He really played on her loneliness and he purported to be in the United States military, which explained when he couldn’t get back to her right away,” Rouches said. “They don’t want to believe it’s not real. She’s a woman of average intelligence, but she really wanted to believe.”
The scam had moved quickly. They met on Facebook, the talk turned romantic, and two weeks later he was bleeding her for thousands of dollars. It collapsed when “Tyndall” suddenly broke contact with the woman and stopped returning calls and messages.
“Not until there was no way to reach him did she come to us,” Rouches said. “She came in feeling really embarrassed and upset.”[via The Oregonian]