Dating websites and social media are all too often populated by folks wanting to project a more positive image of themselves than exists in reality. The images projected can range from those merely shading the truth (leaving out that you are married) to the bald-faced lie (pretending to be a real celebrity). We can assume that the more brazen the lie, the more sinister are the motives behind it.

A rural Elvira woman brought me a story that decidedly fell on the sinister end of the spectrum. Terri is a single mom, looking for companionship. She posted a profile on Pinterest. One day she received a message through Pinterest from a fella naming himself as Chase Rice. I will admit right here, when Terri told me this, I lacked the foggiest idea about who Chase Rice was. And if you, like me, don’t know of him, I will tell you he is described in Wikipedia as “an American country singer and songwriter, and reality television star.” A celebrity.

Chase Rice said he wanted to date Terri. He liked what she portrayed of herself on Pinterest. He went on Skype with her (although strangely, only the audio worked). But Rice told her about some rules she needed to follow. The Country Music Association (CMA), of which he was an affiliate, did not permit him to exchange messages with her through just any common communication method. She needed to use encrypted messaging through the CMA server. To get this done, she needed to send a new iPhone 12 Promax (cost $1,386), to his agent. It’s fair to say Rice swept Terri off her feet. She went out and bought a new iPhone 12 Promax. He also convinced her to set up an online banking account for him to access. And he persuaded her to send a photograph of her Iowa driver’s license, “to verify your identity” before dating Mr. Chase Rice. This is not looking promising for Terri, is it?

But there’s a not terrible ending to the story. Terri saw attempts made with the online banking account to take money from her by Chase Rice. Terri mentioned him to a couple of people, family and others, who became alarmed. She was savvy enough to notice some discrepancies in a copy of a North Carolina driver’s license Rice sent to her, to prove his authenticity.

Bottom line, Terri is the proud new owner of a new iPhone 12 Promax, and her Iowa driver’s license can now go anywhere, but she came out of this in not terrible shape.

I want to make two points with Terri’s situation:

Criminals can impersonate real people, or make up a profile out of thin air on dating websites and social media. You can’t take these profiles at face value. Any romantic interest you meet who asks for money or financial favors is working a scam.

It is becoming ever more common for criminals to ask their fraud victims to photograph or copy their driver’s license. If you do this, you just handed away your identity to a crook. You won’t know when or how the crooks will use your information, but they will. Report this to your state driver’s license office, and ask for a new license. You should also strongly consider a credit freeze.

CONTACT SENIORS VS. CRIME

Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 563-242-9211, Ext. 4433, or email me at randymeier@gapa911.us

Randy Meier is the director of Seniors vs. Crime, which operates in conjunction with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.

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