West Chester Police and Firefighters, along with 200 volunteers took part in a practice drill simulating an active shooter situation inside Hopewell Elementary school, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. More local law enforcement and EMS crews are prepping to respond to the rising number of school threats.GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

West Chester woman scammed out of $683K in 3 incidents

A West Chester Twp. woman has been scammed out of $683,000 in three separate incidents, according to police.

Last year, the 61-year-old woman was taken for more than $70,000 in a dating website scam. It appears the same person who duped her before now allegedly has more than $465,000 of her money, according to township spokeswoman Barb Wilson.

RELATED: West Chester woman, 60, scammed out of $70,000 on dating website

“The caller portrayed themselves to be the same person she had interaction with in the romance scam in 2018,” Wilson said. “And (he) convinced her to send money to him.”

The person claimed to be in trouble and asked for the money. Detectives traced the $70,000 transaction to a Nigerian IP address and reached out to the dating website “Our Time” about the incident, but there have been no arrests. Wilson said the woman also had phone contact with that scammer last summer.

She also lost $148,000 recently in a Social Security Administration scam. A caller convinced her someone had opened accounts with her Social Security number and there were warrants issued against her.

“The person on the phone convinced her the way to clear up that situation was to send a combination of money transfers and gift cards,” Wilson said.

Police Chief Joel Herzog said these types of crimes are extremely difficult to solve.

“The main problem is many times they are able to mask their numbers or spoof their numbers or emails and it goes out of the country. That’s what makes it so difficult,” Herzog said. “Once we can track it many times it does go out of the country. If it’s within the United States, we can track it. We’ve had a history where we will make an arrest and charge somebody.”

Wilson said people need to be suspicious of certain types of calls.

“All of us really need to understand that under no circumstances is a legit operation going to ask you to pay off an obligation or a debt or a fine or anything like that with a gift card,” she said. “Nor are they going to ask for your banking information over the phone.”

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