Love, Money, and the Internet
We share these true stories of member experiences to help you avoid falling victim to a scam. If you ever have questions about the validity of a request for money or information about your account, contact us.
When looking for love and friendship online, beware of trolls looking to romance their way into your wallet. Think it couldn’t happen to you? You might be surprised! Read this true, cautionary tale:
Mark, a small business owner and NorthCountry member, enjoys a quiet life in northern Vermont. With no friends or relatives nearby, he often finds himself a bit bored and lonely, so he goes online to meet some new people. One friend, a woman calling herself Ana, begins chatting with him regularly. Mark loves hearing about the foreign country where she lives and sharing tales of his life in Vermont. Their online relationship continues for months. Mark feels like he and Ana share a connection.
One day, Ana contacts Mark with terrifying news: she has COVID-19 and is having trouble breathing. The hospital won’t admit her for treatment unless she pays upfront. Wanting to help, Mark wires money from his NorthCountry account to Ana’s account. As her condition continues to deteriorate, Ana reaches out to Mark several more times for financial help.
NorthCountry’s Fraud Prevention Department notices the multiple wire transfers, and contacts Mark. Mark explains that Ana is clinging to life in the hospital and needs his help. When NorthCountry refuses to send more wire transfers, Mark becomes angry and tells a friend.
His friend -- who suspects Mark may have fallen victim to an online romance scam --uses a photo of Ana to do some online research. Within minutes, he finds evidence that Ana’s story is a hoax. Heartbroken and betrayed, Mark admitted he had fallen for an online romance scam.
If ever in doubt about the motives of an online friend, give us a call. We have extensive experience in spotting scams and are here to keep you and your money safe. Wire transfers are especially popular among criminals, because once the funds leave your account, they’re difficult to trace and can’t be recalled.
Always think twice when someone you met online asks you to wire money. Chances are, it’s a scam. Visit our Security page for more tips on keeping your accounts secure.