A San Jose woman was conned out of more than $500,000 by a Nigerian scammer who wooed her on a dating website while posing as a British citizen stuck at sea on a Scottish oil rig, prosecutors said Wednesday as they sounded a warning about an increase in such online rip-offs.
The 66-year-old victim, whose name wasn’t released, was targeted on ChristianMingle.com by a man who called her, texted her and sent her flowers before asking her to loan him money to run a business. The impostor used a bogus picture and created a fake website, where he listed the victim’s name as a company official, investigators said.
The woman, who is divorced, gave him money from her retirement account and refinanced her home, most recently wiring $200,000 to a Turkish bank account at his request late last year, authorities said. But she soon realized she had been conned and called Santa Clara County prosecutors, who contacted the bank, said Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard.
When Wisdom Onokpite, an associate of the suspect, showed up the next day in hopes of withdrawing the money, the bank notified the Turkish National Police, who arrested him. Onokpite, a Nigerian national who entered Turkey using a fake passport, is being prosecuted for fraud in Turkey, authorities said.
The purported suitor’s name wasn’t released. Investigators said that man’s Skype account and e-mail addresses were later traced to Nigeria.