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‘It was a false sense of trust:’ Woman loses thousands in online romance scam

LynnGREENFIELD — The relationship started with romantic conversation, letters, and poems.

"Kind of like an unwritten fairy tale, the way we would talk to each other," recalled a woman named Lynn.

Over time, it evolved into mind games, emotional blackmail, manipulation, and coercion.

"Obviously, it was a false sense of trust," Lynn said.

Lynn of Greenfield met Russell of Oshkosh on Facebook.

"We had lots of conversations. Twice a day on the phone," she said.

Romance scam

The two never met in person. Lynn now believes the relationship was all a scam that cost her $10,000.

"It's amazing how they can get money out of someone who doesn't have it," Lynn said.

Romance scam

Russell told Lynn he was awarded a fuel line contract in Dubai. While overseas, he claimed his laptop and credit cards were stolen. He convinced Lynn to open him a savings account. Weeks later, he deposited money, and asked her to send it back to him in pre-paid gift cards.

"I got to the point where I could feel that it was a scam," Lynn said.

Then, a payment was made on Lynn's charge cards that she'd never given him access to.

"I don't know how he got that information," she said.

Romance scam

People in the United States lost more money to romance scams than any other scam in 2018.

"A telltale sign of a scam is when they're giving you money, and asking you to give them money back," said Lara Sutherlin of Wisconsin Department Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

LynnVictims are often elderly people that live alone, who don't want to admit they've been scammed.

"You're not only telling them they don't have good judgment, but you're taking away their companion," Sutherlin explained.

Lynn shared her story to give other victims strength.

"If there's another woman out there listening and sees this, she doesn't have to go through it. She's not alone," Lynn said.

If you're wondering how Lynn got caught up in this, it all happened over several months, and countless conversations and text messages. Lynn was given complicated explanations and stories. She actually said, "No," to several things she was asked to do.

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