I-Team: Online dating costs Triangle widow big bucks

DURHAM (WTVD) -- For many, online dating is a way to find that special someone, but for one local widow, it left her heart broken and her wallet empty.

It was supposed to be a new chapter in her life.

"My husband passed away a couple of years ago and at the encouragement of friends, they suggested I go on it and meet someone," she said.

But it ended badly. She asked us to protect her identity as she was too embarrassed to be identified, but wanted to share her story as a warning.

"I was really afraid," she said.

She joined a dating website for singles 50 and older.

"I thought, 'What's safer than that,'" she said.

She soon started chatting with a man who called himself "Glen Bogan."

"He said he was widowed with one child, and I was widowed with one child, and I thought, 'You know, it was something in common,'" she said.

Soon the chats turned into a relationship.

"'I miss you. How was your day? I want just to know everything about you,'" she said.

Text messages and phone calls started to come daily.

"Over a period of two months he was calling me 6 to 10 times a day," she said.

They eventually made plans to meet, but Bogan cancelled at the last minute. He then sent an urgent text saying he was in the Ukraine on business and needed her help.

"He said, 'I realize I didn't bring enough money and I don't have enough for my ticket home. If you'll send it to me then when I come back I'll reimburse you the money,'" she said. "And he sent me an itinerary that said he was flying to Raleigh-Durham."

Even though she was leery of sending the money, when Bogan started questioning her love, she mailed a check for $2,000 to an address Bogan claimed to be his daughters.

But this was not the last call for help or money.

"His cousin called me and said, 'He's having problems with the equipment for his job in Ukraine and he needs $35, 000,'" she said. "And she said, 'I have $19,000 in my saving account and I'm going to send him $18,000, but he wants you to send the remainder $17,000.'"

Sensing a scam, she stopped communicating with Bogan. But he didn't stop contacting her, and his instant messages became threatening.

"He said, 'Are you at home,' and I said, 'No,' and he said, 'I know you are, I can see you,'" she said.

She said that Bogan somehow installed a program on her computer and was able to spy on her through her webcam.

"I was scared. In a lot of his messages he kept saying, 'I don't want to hurt you, I don't want to hurt you,'" she said.

This woman is not alone. In 2014, the NC Attorney General's Office heard from 36 residents who all together lost more than $1.5 million to this scam. One of those victims included a Nash County widow who lost $100,000 to sweetheart scammers.

For our victim, this particular instance still haunts her.

"I'm having nightmares, having this person walking behind me and I stop someone on the road and say, 'This guy's following me,' and they say, 'There's nobody there,'" she said.

We tried to track down "Glen Bogan" but the number he uses are all temporary digital numbers and the Pennsylvania address she sent the $2,000 to is a warehouse.

The best advice is to remember people aren't always who they claim to be online. Never send money to anyone you don't know well and be aware that there are scammers preying on people during vulnerable times.

Contact Troubleshooter Diane Wilson

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