What started as an internet romance between a Japanese woman and a man who claimed to be a US Army Captain stationed in Syria turned out to be $200,000 scam. The woman, who was identified as FK in court documents, estimated that she made 35 to 40 payments over the 10 months that she had a relationship with the Captain, who introduced himself as Terry Garcia. CNN detailed how the demands for payment started:
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Demands for money started after he told her he’d found a bag of diamonds in Syria and needed her help to smuggle it out of the war-torn nation. He said he was injured and could not do it himself — and introduced her to associates he said would help facilitate the transfer, court documents allege. One said he was a Red Cross diplomat who could get the diamonds shipped to FK, court documents show.
Shortly after, another man who claimed to work for a shipping company asked FK for money to ensure the package was not inspected at customs, the complaint alleges. Requests for additional money kept coming, with the fraudsters citing different reasons each time on why the package was stuck at customs.
Federal officials told CNN that this international online scam, that was not only focused on dating sites but also businesses, where they would hack company email systems, impersonate employees and direct payments that funnel money back to themselves was ran by two Nigerian men who lived in California, with the help of associates in the area and in other countries.
For now, 14 out of the 80 people charged have been arrested, including the two key suspects who oversaw the whole scam.
image credit: screenshot via CNN