"He's ruined my life": Northeast Ohio woman swindled out of more than $70,000 in romance scam

Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 17:31:37-05

They say love is blind - and that's exactly what these scam artists are counting on. The Ohio Attorney General's Office calls them "sweetheart scams."

In a sweetheart scam, the scammer convinces their victim they are in love and then uses the goodwill to convince them to fork over their hard earned cash or credit card information. 

Northeast Ohioan, Susan Wutz, shared her story with News 5 this Valentine's Day, hoping it may prevent another heartbreak.

"Oh you like the military? Let's be friends," that's how Wutz said it started. A Facebook message. The man who reached out to her claimed to be in the military. 

"He poured on the romance like I've never heard it before," she said. 

And the relationship moved fast. Wutz said, before long, they were talking every day, all day, about everything. 

"He made me fall in love with him," she said.

The man promised a future together, even an engagement, but soon started asking for financial help.

"He said when we are married and I have everything paid I won't need it anymore," Wutz explained.

She said wired him some cash and gave him access to her credit card and he was paying her back at first.

Until he didn't. 

"He maxed out my Chase Sapphire at $49,000," she said.

The man behind the messages and phone calls left her more than $70,000 in debt. 

He turned out to be nothing more than a professional scam artist. 

"Yeah, I feel stupid. You feel stupid! But he played on my emotions," she said, calling it fraud. 

"They told me at the attorney general's office it could be international. They could have people sitting and doing this. He could be doing it to multiple women, he probably is, look at how much he got off of me," Wutz told News 5.

She is not alone. There were 60 sweetheart scams reported in the state last year. The average victim here in Ohio lost about $20,000.

Wutz sat down with News 5 Valentine's Day, and shared something extremely personal, because she's hoping her heartbreak, what she thought was her love story, gets the word out and saves someone else.

"He's ruined my life. Ruined it. I loved him and trusted him. Thought I was going to marry him," she said. 

For more information, and tips, check out this formal warning from Ohio Attorney General, Mike Dewine.