JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville military veteran is in danger of losing everything after he says he was scammed on Facebook by a woman who said she wanted to marry him.
At 73, Bob Creswell thought he had found love. He said a 31-year-old woman named “Ruth” from Charleston, South Carolina friended him on Facebook in September.
“She said she wanted me to text her. I texted her and we started talking and she was telling me that money can sometimes be involved in a relationship,” Creswell said.
At first, he was skeptical.
“I told her that if you care about somebody, you don’t have to pay to care about somebody. So she kind of backed off on that, but as it went along she said, ‘Look my phone is running out,’” Creswell said.
He says he sent her 18 cards with $20 each to put minutes on her phone and then the conversation turned to something bigger. She said she was going to get a $40 million inheritance, but needed to be married in order to receive it.
Creswell says he tried to visit her but she told him it would interfere with her inheritance.
When asked if he ever thought he was getting scammed, Creswell said: “I had a few aspersions about that but my big heart didn’t want me to accept the fact and because I thought I was married to her.”
He says he paid an attorney $300 to get married, and when Ruth asked for $5,780 in legal fees to get to her inheritance, he overdrew his bank account.
She sent money to reimburse him, but those checks bounced.
“When I got that check and cashed it and went to go to the store to buy a 12 pack of beer, I couldn’t buy it,” Creswell said. “So what’s in my bank account? They said I was $5,780 in the debt.”
“I thought I was married to her,” he continued. “I thought I was in love with her. I still do. And after being scammed like this, it’s costing me my reputation as being honest and straightforward with everybody else that I know.”
Creswell filed a report with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said even though his brain tells him that he was scammed, his heart is having a hard time accepting the person who called themselves Ruth is a fraud.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, elderly victims of romance scams lost at least $139 million in 2020.
There are some ways to check if a new suitor is actually too good to be true. If you have a photo of them, you can reverse image search on a website like TinEye. We uploaded a photo of Ruth and traced the image to escort sites.
According to AARP, phony suitors reach out to potential victims on social media and international criminal gangs use dating sites to find victims to launder dirty money through their bank accounts. The FBI also reported a rising trend of romance scammers asking their victims to make investments in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Creswell has the support of the American Legion, which is working to raise money for him. Creswell says he’s also looking to get a job to help repay his debt.