Retired LAPD Detective's identity stolen in heartbreaking online scam
LOS ANGELES - Retired LAPD Detective Moses Castillo finds himself at the center of a disturbing case of identity theft and online romance scam. "I can't even believe this is happening," Moses said. Neither could Mary, a woman who fell in love with a man she met on the dating website "Our Time."
"He was very nice. We'd just talk about our days... he had a dog, and I had two dogs," Mary shared, her voice filled with nostalgia.
The man, who introduced himself as Alexandro Perez Castillo, proceeded to bombard Mary with affectionate messages. However, unbeknownst to Mary, he had stolen Moses Castillo's identity and utilized images of his family, including his dog, which he even renamed.
The deceit didn't end there. The scammer continuously professed his love for Mary, claiming to be a member of the National Security Council. After a month of love bombing through texts, emails, and sporadic phone calls, he informed Mary of an urgent rescue mission in Ukraine.
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"[He] told me they did a hostage rescue, they rescued two women who had been beaten and raped, and a young girl that had been kidnapped," Mary recalled.
However, the scammer soon declared his imminent deployment to Afghanistan, a place he allegedly dreaded. It was at this point that he started pressuring Mary for financial assistance, requesting $22,000 to facilitate his return home. When Mary told him she didn’t have that kind of cash, the scammer intensified the pressure. "So he was like... get a loan, take out a second mortgage on your house," said Mary.
Eventually, she succumbed to the pressure and sent the scammer several hundred dollars, exhausting her limited resources. It was only when she noticed a sudden change in her boyfriend's online account, from Alexandro to Moses, that she realized something was wrong. In her pursuit of the truth, Mary decided to Google the name Moses Castillo, leading her to the real detective's photographs.
"I found the detective Moses, and all the pictures were the same as he sent me," Mary revealed. Realizing Mary was heartbroken, Moses told her, "I'm sorry if you felt an emotional attachment towards me. I don't even know how to respond to that."
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When Mary confronted the scammer, he stopped all communication. Mary believes she was an easy target because she’s been vulnerable since the passing of her husband a year ago.
"After my husband died, everybody was around for a couple of weeks, and then, everybody disappears. The people that you think are your friends are not there for you. You just get lonely," Mary shared.
Moved by Mary's ordeal, Moses said, "I do feel she was genuinely emotionally attached to this person, thinking it was me. And I do feel really bad for this person."
Mary’s advice to women dating online: "Do not put on your profile that you are a widow." Regarding the man who scammed her, she said, "You have to be a cold-hearted person to do that and to prey on people that are already hurting."