80-year-old Oregon widower loses $200K in romance scam

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- As Valentine's Day approaches, one Oregon man is not feeling the love.

An 80-year-old widower was "catfished" out of $200,000, according to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The man was swindled after an "unidentified fraudster" stole a Florida woman's identity and befriended the man through online dating and convinced him to invest money in a business opportunity.

Authorities said the scammer convinced the man they were in a long-distance relationship over several months. The con artist then persuaded the man to support an art gallery in Florida, pretending to seek investors to cover $5 million in transportation costs to ship a 500-ton marble sculpture of a lion from China. The scammer told the man that all investments and then some would be returned after the sculpture sold.

Overall, the man made multiple payments over five months totaling over $200,000. He lost his entire investment and investigators have not been able to track the scammer down.

The ODCBS said romance scams typically target older individuals by gaining their trust and asking for money through social media and dating websites or apps. They urge consumers to do proper research before making any investments.