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The $300,000 Romance Scam

September 20, 2010 8:50:19 PM PDT
Recently, we told you about a Yonkers man who committed suicide after losing thousands of dollars in a romance-scam.

After that story aired on EN, we were contacted by a South Jersey woman who just discovered that her widowed father lost 3-hundred thousand dollars and he was willing to tell his story.

"I lost everything," Eberhard Krier said, breaking down in tears.

Krier is a broken man with a broken heart. He is a widower who thought he'd found love through the internet after his wife of 34 years died of cancer a year and a half ago.

WALLACE: "Did you really believe this woman was in love with you?"
KRIER: "Yes, that's what I believed."

Heather Humphreys became alarmed when her father started becoming more and more secretive about emails and cell phone calls to a woman calling herself Lisa Kelly, supposedly living in the African country of Ghana. But it wasn't just that.

WALLACE: "So all told, he spent how much money?"
HUMPHREYS: "$300,000."

Krier now reveals he traveled to London 14 times over the past year thinking he would be rendezvousing with his love who claimed she'd invested his money in accounts in Ghana.

WALLACE: "And when she didn't show up, didn't something go off in your head that something was wrong here?"
KRIER: "No. Nothing went off in my head. I was in love with her."

His last trip came at the end of the July.

"Four o'clock in the morning, I got a phone call saying he's in London, no way to get home. They picked him up walking on the highway," Humphreys said.

Krier was briefly checked into a psychiatric hospital by his family. By that time, he'd lost his home to foreclosure, forced to move in with his daughter, her husband, and their three children. While going thru her dad's finances, Heather says she got the shock of her life.

HUMPHREYS: "This was his pension."
WALLACE: "This money? this $115,000?"
HUMPHREYS: "Is gone. They have it."
WALLACE: "How much was he sending a day?"
HUMPHREYS: "Like $5 or $6,000."
SARAH: "A day?"
HUMPHREYS: "Yes. A day. It's all gone. Everything."

The family contacted us after we aired a story about a Yonkers man who had stolen money from his son and then committed suicide after being victimized in a similar Ghana romance scam.

"The only thing I didn't do. I didn't steal or I didn't kill myself," Krier said.

Humphreys said she thinks these people are "monsters."

"Why are these people getting rich on destroying families? It destroys families. When everybody tells you it happens all the time, why aren't we doing things to stop it?" she said.

Humphreys says early on, when she suspected the scam, she tried to get help, even contacting the FBI.

"And when I called the FBI, they were like, 'Well, just tell him to stop. It's another country. We have no jurisdiction," Humphreys explained.

In fact, the FBI does not have authority to do anything.

"The FBI can't go into these countries and go get these people," Richard Kolko of the FBI. "The FBI does not have global authority to go knock on doors in other countries."

Kolko says internet scammers come and go so fast, it's almost impossible to track them.

"The simplest thing is don't fall prey to it. And there's no reason to. It's an education thing. And that's what you can do today. Your story will help us educate people," he said.

How strong is the spell of these scammers? Mr. Krier has apparently been in contact with the mystery woman again, and he disappeared from his daughter's house after cashing his social security check, his only source of income.

--- ONLINE RESOURCES:

To report internet scams to the FBI, visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.

Other websites to check include:

www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm

ghana.usembassy.gov/romance_scam.html

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates


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