MASON CITY, Iowa – Police say a North Iowan was recently robbed of about $18,000 without ever seeing or even talking to the thieves responsible.
The Mason City Police Department says the victim banks in Mason City and bought roughly $18,000 in gift cards over two weeks for someone he thought was living in Nigeria and wanted to be his girlfriend. The victim says they communicated by text messages and emails, and he never spoke to this person directly over the phone.
What $18,000 in gift cards purchased over the last 2 weeks looks like. Courtesy of the Mason City Police Department.
Police say after getting the victim’s bank account information, the criminal would start initiating phony electronic payments to the account. The victim would then withdraw the money before the pending transaction completely, go buy the gift cards, scratch off the access code information, and send photos of the access code to the criminal. The cards would then be quickly drained of money.
Mason City Police say:
“This is another example of the numerous people who succomb to these types of scams. We have seen several losses that exceed $10,000 for each victim. Many of the victims are contacted through social media and online dating sites. Two popular apps being used by scammers to find victims for these types of scams are "Whats App" and "Hangouts."”