2 women nearly fall for eerily similar Match.com scammers

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Two women say they were targeted by scam artists who were looking to steal their hearts and money on popular dating site, Match.com.

Nancy Mullen joined Match.com earlier this year and says she was looking for love and adventure. Her chances at finding Mr. Right looked great when dozens of suitors approached her on the same the day she joined.

“I was looking for someone to do things with. Someone I could hang around with. The day I joined I was inundated with men trying to reach out,” she said.

One of those men was Michael who told Mullen he was a contractor in Malaysia.

“He was saying all the things I wanted to hear,” Mullen said. “We went back and forth probably once and then he told me that just from my picture and profile, I was the one and that he was going to take his profile down.”

Mullen and Michael began to text. She said Match.com warns about reaching out to dates outside the service.

That was the first red flag.

Another woman, Mary, also had red flags. She joined Match.com and met a man, another contractor who told her his name was Christopher.

They, too, began to talk through text and email messages. Mary said the conversations became strange.

“I said I liked the Eagles. All of a sudden he said he liked the Eagles. ‘What kind of music do you like?’ I’d name a few. ‘Oh they are really good. I like them, too,'” Mary said. “There’s too many similarities. All of a sudden he liked people I liked.”

Second red flag.

Still, Mary thought it was nice to connect with a person. Christopher went as far as to say he became a widower around the same time she had lost her own husband.

Within two weeks, Christopher told Mary he was moving to Nigeria.

Third red flag.

He had a bid for a contracting job, he told her.

“And that’s when he started: he needed money. He had to have this equipment so he could finish this job,” Mullen said he told her.

Christopher asked Mary for $2,500. She did not have the money and told him she was moving on.

“I would never ask someone I never met ‘Can I have $2500?'” Mary said. “I said ‘I am done with this.’ He said ‘Oh no, it’s not just the money. I really love you. I want to keep seeing you. I can’t wait to be home.'”

But Mary never met Christopher.

Meanwhile, Mullen’s man Michael began breaking out the messages for money.

“He sent me an email one morning saying ‘I just had the worst day. You aren’t going to believe this. I just went to pick up my last set of materials to finish this job at customs and, my darling, my wallet was missing. All my money, my credit cards, and the picture that I carry of you,'” Mary said. “Told me it was $16,000 he needed.”

Michael called Mullen, but she refused to send him cash.

“I hung up on him and sent him an email saying I wasn’t an idiot and to never contact me again,” Mullen said.

Neither Mary nor Mullen sent the men on Match.com money.

Mullen reached out to Match.com and reported her scammer. Michael was removed from the site and she was awarded a partial refund, representatives said.

The online dating site has a fraud team who blocks suspected scammers. They also attach a reminder about avoiding scammers and sending money on users’ email exchanges. Match.com also has a section devoted to dating safety tips.

Mary and Mullen said a warning is not enough. They would like to see better screening.

“I know they probably have thousands of people on there, but there’s got to be a better system,” Mary said.

The website says Match.com “does not inquire into the backgrounds of all of its members or attempt to verify the statements of its members.” While some states have bills to regulate online dating, most laws do not require websites to provide a criminal background check.

Florida lawmakers introduced a similar bill this year but it did not pass.

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