Police said they knew the man as David Smart, who claimed to be a general in the US military.
DULUTH, Go. – A woman in Duluth lost $38,000 in an internet romance scam – but in a rare outcome for a case like this, the police got it all back.
According to the Duluth Police Department, they received a report from Wells Fargo Bank that an elderly person could be a victim of a scam and may need help from agents.
The report said a Duluth woman transferred $38,000 to her boyfriend after they told her about a potential real estate investment, which was ultimately not the full story.
An investigator went to the woman’s home on September 28, 2021 for an initial interview about the scam. She told the detective that she wanted to officially report the incident.
RELATED: Officials: Woman lost more than $6.5M in romance scam, Georgia man indicted
The Duluth woman said she met a man named David Smart about a year and a half ago. Smart told her he was a US military general, currently stationed in Afghanistan, the report said.
Around March 2021, the woman said, Smart asked her to send him $9,000. Police said he claimed he had a large amount of money in the Philippines that had been transferred to Switzerland, but needed help with the reimbursement. Smart said he would give her some of the money in return, researchers said.
As talks continued between Smart and the woman in Duluth, she spoke to several others who said they were related or knew Smart, the report said. There were Smart’s foster mother, Tina, and Jerry, who said he was Smart’s son.
They all contacted her, claiming that Smart was in a coma, the reports said, and if she wired $38,000, they would send her checks — promising she could use $4,000 a month from the account.
The Duluth woman said she had received five checkbooks – made in her name – from JP Morgan Chase Bank. She said she never used one and submitted them for evidence.
The report said the Duluth woman believed the woman who claimed to be Smart’s foster mother was real — that someone was imitating her, but that the name they gave her was real.
Investigators inquired about the name the Duluth woman was given, and it came back to a woman who lived in Utah. The woman in Utah turned out to be another victim in a long line of people being scammed. She lost $300,000, researchers said.
According to reports, the woman in Utah tried to get the money back from the woman in Duluth. The money was held in her account by Wells Fargo until they could figure out where it came from.
The Duluth woman called investigators on Nov. 22, 2021, saying she had finally gotten her money back from the woman in Utah.
Researchers have not found who is responsible for this internet scam.