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Akron man out $200,000 after romance ruse

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 18:50:07-04

AKRON, Ohio — Back in November, Matthew Derrick, of Akron, jumped on the personality/dating app So Syncd and was drawn to the profile picture of woman.

"Immediately, I felt such a connection," Derrick said.

They never met in person, but the two communicated through apps and text messaging for several months. The more they chatted the stronger Derrick's feelings grew. He was convinced he had met his soulmate.

"Absolutely, we talked that way," he told News 5.

But then, the woman he met online began asking for money— a lot of it— to support several business ventures, promising that Derrick, 42, would be a part of the businesses and reap the benefits of them.

"Oh yeah, we were going to build revenue streams," he said.

More importantly to Derrick, he firmly believed he was building an eventual life together with the woman who said she lived in West Virginia.

"'I care so much for you. I love you so much,' she said, and I was her joy giver," Derrick said.

Following his heart, and admittedly not his head, Derrick maxed out his credit cards and sent her more than $100,000 in gift cards, and after that, almost another $100,000 through Bitcoin.

That included $20,000 that he borrowed from a family member, but when relatives raised concerns, Derrick contacted Akron police and was told he was a victim of a ruse that plays on the heartstrings of people.

"It's unfortunate. It's terrible. It happens very frequently," said Detective Troy Looney from Akron's financial crimes division.

Police will try to analyze the photos sent to Derrick, IP addresses, and the text and social media messages in an effort to track down the person behind the ruse, but that won't be easy.

"Sometimes we can locate the metadata associated with those photos or maybe the latitude and longitude, but it gets more into the cybersecurity and forensics areas," Looney said.

The detective said to avoid falling victim to something similar, consumers should protect their credit profiles.

"You want to freeze your credit— your credit reports— put fraud alerts in place with the three credit bureaus, and then again, if things just seem too good to be true, avoid, or call the police department immediately," Looney said.

Click here for more resources from Akron police.

Derrick said he's heartbroken and devastated over all of the money he lost. He hopes his warning will spare others from becoming a sweetheart victim.

"Right now, I'm kind of numb. I don't know. If I can't get this money back, I'll have to go bankrupt," he said. "Do not believe anything that anyone says unless you talk to them in person and meet them. Do not provide them any financial money."

News 5 reached out to So Syncd for comment on this story, but there hasn't been a response as of Friday evening.