A Susquehanna County woman appears to have fallen victim to an international catfishing scammer that bilked her out of thousands of dollars over the course of several months.
The term “catfish” is modern slang used to describe a person who sets up a false identity (typically through social media sites) to be used for fraudulent and deceptive purposes, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Pennsylvania State Police, Gibson, are investigating an international scam that occurred through the social media site, Instagram (Facebook) and Hangouts (Google) earlier this year involving a New Milford area woman who lost over $63,350 in the process.
The victim was contacted by a presumed male who liked her photos. According to the police report, he claimed that he had recently lost his wife, and that he worked on board a ship traveling internationally, delivering goods port-to-port. Throughout several weeks, the scammer convinced the woman that he needed her help.
Police said that over the course of several months, the scammer made the victim believe that he loved her and that they were going to be married.
He mailed a document her address indicating that a package containing his personal effects, legal documents, $300,000 British pounds, and an engagement ring would be delivered to her, the police reported. But in order to receive the package, he told her she would have to sent the delivery company money.
The woman depleted her savings account and sent multiple money wire transfers internationally to several different names and addresses.
The scammer then claimed the delivery company needed even more money in order to deliver the package to her, and he provided her with detailed instructions on how to apply and receive multiple personal loans.
The woman obtained three personal loans, cashed the loan checks and packed FedEx overnight boxes with cash and sent them to the address provided to her by the scam artist.
The victim’s family convinced her that she had been scammed and reported the matter to state police. Tpr. Timothy Walker is continuing the investigation.