A Pinellas County woman looking for love lost her home and all her savings in a scam.
Catherine Short, 71, turned to a dating website to find a companion. Weeks later, she found a match.
"He was interested in meeting with me and maybe having a relationship and eventually getting married,” Short said. “He told me he would never ask me for a dime."
But things eventually changed. The man asked Short to buy pricey electronics and send him cash.
He instructed Short to send everything overseas and said some of the money and electronics would go to underprivileged children.
Short sold her home and emptied her savings, giving away $185,000.
"My son said to me, 'Mom I think you’re being scammed,'” Short said. “I said no, I am not being scammed. He said he has a ring for me in gold with my name spelled out in diamonds. I said how could somebody do that if they didn’t love me?"
Short fell victim to what investigators call a romance scam.
"Once they receive that first phone call or communication with the person, they just pour it on with the love and the romance and go right after,” Sgt. John Spoor with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. “Once they have the heart then they go for the pocket."
Short’s pockets are now empty and her credit cards are maxed out.
"I am trying to find a job to make ends meet,” Short said.
Short said she hopes sharing her story will stop other women from falling prey to scammers.
Next week, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is holding 10 workshops across the county for Fraud Awareness Week. More information about those workshops can be found here.