81-year-old Florida man accused in nationwide fraud scheme fell for romance scam, police say

Bobby Crosby faces charge of scheming to defraud

Bobby Crosby, 81 (Volusia County Jail)

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – An 81-year-old Port Orange man was booked Thursday after investigators said he played a role in facilitating a nationwide series of scams dating back to 2021.

The Port Orange Police Department stated it’s received reports from other law enforcement agencies over the past couple of years involving victims of scams in Massachusetts, California and Michigan. According to an affidavit, the scams involved the victims sending money or gift cards through the mail or payment sites such as Venmo after scammers persuaded victims by pretending to be a family member or falsely telling victims they owed money.

Police said that in April 2021, law enforcement in these areas were able to track shipments to the home of Bobby Crosby, now 81, who lived in Port Orange with his wife.

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When police confronted Crosby, he admitted to receiving victims’ money and other items through the mail for about a year, though he said he didn’t know who was putting together the scams, the affidavit shows.

However, Crosby said he was receiving the money on behalf of a woman whom he met through Facebook Messenger the year prior, police said.

Detectives explained that Crosby deposited “most of the money” he received into his local bank account, and he typically withdrew the money to forward to Bitcoin accounts provided by the Facebook Messenger contact.

According to police, Crosby asked police several times for the address of one of the victims so that he could return their money, though police were unable to provide him with the information due to the investigation. At this time, Crosby was not arrested, court records show.

Police returned to Crosby’s home the next month for another discussion, and he told them he’d received tens of thousands of dollars in cash, checks, money orders, gift cards, electronics, furniture and toys over the past year, the records say. While he forwarded much of the money, he was allowed to keep a “modest fee,” police said.

Following that discussion, Crosby later contacted police to say he found out he’d been receiving the money from an unknown female who was defrauding victims in different parts of the U.S., investigators said.

According to Crosby, he usually spoke with the person on social media prior to being sent money, during which time he was told how to send those shipments to her, police said. Crosby also explained that he had been told he was helping process “government funds,” but the person later closed her social media accounts, police said.

Police said Crosby had planned to keep the money for himself if the female didn’t contact him again, but upon learning about the fraud investigation, he wanted to return the money to its “rightful owner.”

Police said that most of the money received by Crosby had already been forwarded, though they were able to receive $11,000 from Crosby to return to one of the victims.

A police report from April 2022 — nearly a year later — shows that Crosby had likely been scammed himself by online Bitcoin “investors” who pushed him to send them roughly $285,000 over the course of the prior two years.

In September 2022, police in Texas contacted Port Orange police over another fraud case, this time with a victim sending $6,700 in cash to Crosby’s home after being falsely told she would win a big prize, police said.

Police interviewed Crosby again at his home in October 2022, learning that his wife had died and that he was now forced to put his house up for sale due in part to financial troubles. He told police that he had no nearby family and had to take care of himself, officers added.

Crosby admitted to receiving victims’ packages, though he again stated that he didn’t know who was conducting the scams, police said. The affidavit shows Crosby was continuing to forward the money he received to someone else via Bitcoin transactions, just as he had done the year prior.

According to Crosby, he had found someone on a dating website who was responsible for sending these funds over, police said. The account had told him they received an inheritance and wanted to move in with Crosby, police said.

Text messages between the account and Crosby show he was forwarding thousands of dollars he received in the mail from fraud victims:

Account: “Okay honey please probably you might get a package by Tuesday from FedEx and I want you to help me send it as soon as you get it okay my love”

Crosby: “How much”

Account: “$5500″

Crosby: “Can you get some through and shar with me I am desperate”

Account: “It is not mine honey but am working on something very soon for both of us”

Crosby: “I have about $200 left in my bill paying account and I’ve got multiple bills that I have not paid yet one of them for $800″

Crosby: “Well you see my income now I get $1,647 a month social security and then every 6 months I get about $400 to $500 every 6 months and then I have another source I’m in partnerships with someone and they’re supposed to be paying me $3,000 a year for my interest in this business so that’s it and I have a little bit of pocket money but very little I think probably 30 or $40 I was just letting you know right up front what I’m facing”

Crosby: “Okay I’ll get back with you”

Account: “Okay babe”

Account: “You said you need about $200 to pay some of your bills?”

Crosby: “I said that I had $200 left in my bank account and and I need two or $3,000 to pay some bills”

Account: “That alot”

Crosby: “Yes it is”

Text message conversation from Aug. 27, 2022 (courtesy of Port Orange Police Department)

Other conversations show that Crosby had continued to forward money to the account as his financial condition became increasingly worse.

Crosby then returned a cashier’s check to police for $15,000 that he had received in the mail from a fraud victim.

In the months that followed, investigators found that the people to whom Crosby forwarded money were based out of Nigeria, court records reveal. Investigators said Crosby had transferred more than $634,000 between June 16, 2020 and Dec. 17, 2022.

According to the affidavit, a warrant was later issued for Crosby’s arrest. He was booked Thursday, faces a charge of organized scheme to defraud and is held on $50,000 bond.

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About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.