Online dating Romeo calls Florida widow for money in catfishing scam

Funds were destined for Nigerian bank account

CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. – A strong French accent and promise that “I’m going to pay you back" was all part of an online dating con-game to scam thousands of dollars from a Florida widow.

Lynn Eckhardt, of Citrus County, said she endured the con for 14 days after meeting the international man of mystery on Match.com.

”It was like 'why me?' Eckhardt said. “He called me a number of times, of course, always in Spain.”

Eckhardt, a widow and cancer survivor, called News 6 after seeing the report about an Orlando widow, Diane Standish, and the ill-fated online romance that cost her $270,000.

While Eckhardt was explaining to News 6 how she met Mike Poole, aka Mike Sebastian, on Match.com last Memorial day, her cellphone rang. It was the mystery man.

“I’m glad to hear from you,” he said.

After the usual lines of love and romance, the conversation quickly turned to the money, specifically, her money. 

“Actually," he said, “you are going to pay to a bank account in the states.”

Eckhardt let him know she was recording the conversation so “she could get it right,” referring to the procedure to wire the funds.

Surprisingly, he didn’t have the account information ready.

He sent her the information a few days later, which included routing numbers for Citibank of New York and First City Monument Ltd., a bank in Lagos, Nigeria.

The information included two Swift codes, international bank codes used to identify specific banks worldwide.

The photos used in the romance scheme were confirmed to be that of Scott Humpal, a Texas businessman who lost his wife Gaby in a plane crash Feb. 19, 2012.

Humpal told a local CBS affiliate in Corpus Christi that his photos have been used in various social media schemes for the last six or seven years.

Eckhardt said a friend saw Humpal’s photo on Match.com but this time, it was with the profile name Brian from Tampa, Florida.

Eckhardt said she never intended to send funds. When she didn’t wire the money after his first request, the mystery man sent her new information for an account with U.S. Bank.

“I’m sure I said 'I was a widow with no children,'” Eckhardt said, referring to her profile on Match.com.

“It’s a script, it’s cut and paste what they’re telling you,” she said “So I’ve been dishing back as good as I’ve been getting.”

News 6 shared the account information with the Orlando Police Department and the FBI.

The Better Business Bureau estimated that between 2015 and 2017 online dating victims in the U.S and U.K. lost nearly $1 billion.

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