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After Garner woman's experience, expert offers advice for dodging 'catfish' schemes

December 03, 2018, Garner, NC — A Garner woman's online love connection became a deadly plot thwarted by law enforcement.

Roxanne Reed was arrested earlier this year for planning for kill her mother and sending the life insurance claim to a mystery man she met online.

Experts say "catfishing," or online romance scams like this one, are becoming more and more common.

"I guess they was gonna kill me," said Emma Hammontree, Reed's mother.

Reed made headlines this year when she was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder.

According to warrants, Reed and a man she met online, but never in person, cooked up a plan to kill her mother so Reed could cash in on her life insurance policy and give him the money.

According to Hammontree, it's not the first time her daughter sent funds to an online suitor.

Warrants say Reed sent thousands of dollars to a man she met on Facebook over a period of months, and used her power of attorney authority over her friend's accounts to take out money.

"After she met him or talked to him for a while, then he had a daughter or something over, I suppose in India. She got in a wreck or broke her leg or something, and he called and he needed money to get her out of the hospital. He needed money and it wasn't long until he had a wreck and was in the hospital and needed money," Hammontree said.

These type of online romance scams are called catfishing.

"These scammers, they're really the scum of the earth because they are playing on people's emotions and they are taking advantage of people who are very vulnerable," said Tony Hayden, director of North Carolina operations for cybersecurity company StoredTech.

Hayden said scammers assume other people's identities to trick their victims, often targeting the elderly and farming details about them from their social media accounts.

"This person woos them, pulls them in, it can be a very long game," he said.

According to the FBI there were almost 15,000 reported romance scams complaints in 2016, and losses from them exceeded $230 million.

Hayden says the biggest red flag of a potential catfisher is when they start asking for money.

"Maybe they will want money to come see you. They'll want money to buy a plane ticket, or they have (a) relative or a child that is sick and they need money for medical bills," Hayden said.

Hayden recommends not putting too much personal information, such as religious affiliation, on personal social media pages because scammers can use those details to gain a victim's trust.

He said that if someone is really serious about dating a person they met online, it's worth it to pay for a professional background check to make sure they are who they say they are.

Source: CBS 17

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