Woman duped out of $37K in 'romance scam' through Plenty of Fish

(3 ON YOUR SIDE) - Looking for love online is pretty common these days and the number of internet dating services seems endless. One valley woman decided to try one out.

Marna Daugherty was happily married for 20 years and without any notice, her husband passed away. As a result, she'll be the first to tell you that the grief has been unbearable.

“Like I said, I guess it's taken a much bigger toll then I had realized on me, I just tried so hard to move on,” says Daugherty sobbing. 

She says trying to get over the sudden and unexpected death of her husband a year and a half ago is nearly impossible.

"Just like that my life changed and I haven't been the same since." 

Daugherty says she tried to get past her grief by starting a new relationship.

"When this other man came into my life, I thought I was over it and I thought I was ready to meet someone else.”

Daugherty found that "someone else" on the Internet by using a website called Plenty of Fish. It's here, she says, she fell for a man with a romantic sounding name.

“Gary Andreas. Gary Christopher Andreas.”

Along with photographs, this so-called Gary Andreas shared with Daugherty online, he also told her he was 58 years old, divorced and traveled the world as a civil engineer.

But, it was his way with words that won Daugherty's heart.

"Oh the love letter. I have 75 pages, every single day written by like a romance novelist or a poet.”

Oh and this poet didn't stop with love letters. He actually called Daugherty numerous times expressing his love for her. Daugherty says she fell hard and it reached a point that this romantic devil felt comfortable enough to ask for money.

“It was only a couple of hundred dollars the first time and then it built up.  My love for him got more and more and I would have jumped off a bridge for this guy honestly.”

Those requests for money kept coming and Daugherty says she kept on depositing money into his bank account. After all, she says she was in love, even though she never actually met the guy.

"When he asked for more money and I said, you just want me for my money. No and to cheer you up. I bought you a ring.”

A ring? Daugherty was thrilled. And even though she was broke, she still agreed to give him money.

"He convinced me to take out a loan for $15,000, which I did."

But it didn't stop there. After this "Romeo" sent her what looks like a legitimate airline ticket saying he was coming to marry her, it convinced Daugherty to keep sending money to him. 

In all, Daugherty says she sent good 'ol Casanova $37,000.

"I'm drained, I am so broke right now. I have nothing, he drained, I took every bit of cash I could pull from everywhere.”

That plane ticket turned out to be a fake and Daugherty now knows there is no Gary Andreas. As for the pictures he sent her? Some innocent guy's photo most likely stolen off the Internet and used by a scammer to lure in vulnerable women like Daugherty. Daugherty says after losing her husband and now falling for this, is just devastating. 

"I'd love to believe that that person is real, that he is coming back, that he will pay me back. I'm about to cry now (crying) because I know it's not true, but how much I wanted it to be true! I was so in love with him"

This “Romance Scam” happens quite a bit. In fact, the FBI has documented more than $230-million in losses. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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