Midwest mom falls for romance scam


Staff member

by Brandon De Hoyos
Updated July 10, 2019

The man Rhonda Meade fell in love with promised to elope with her to a tropical island paradise where they could be married along white beaches as the setting sun shimmered across vast, crystal-clear waters.

But, the only thing that ran away from the 36-year-old single mother’s life of hardship would eventually be all her savings and the security she had entrusted with “Walter.”

Meade, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was one of the millions of people who flock to the internet each year in search of romance and a long-term relationship. Like many single women, the Midwestern mother of two and caretaker for her ailing father found many possibilities and opportunities when it came to meeting men online.

Entering a Yahoo! Chat room one evening after working the night shift at her retail job, she met a man only a state away who enchanted her from the moment she first spoke with him.

“He was extremely intelligent and came across as very romantic and genuinely interested in me,” Meade said. “I thought he was too good to be true.”

Chatting nightly over Yahoo! Messenger from October 2006 through February 2007, Walter, a self-described white-collar engineer and college sports enthusiast, ended up taking the spellbound Meade for the ride of her life.

“We were going to get married,” she recalls, fighting back tears. “But, then, he told me he had lost his job, was laid off, and that he was in need. So, I did what I would have done for any man I was invested in like that. I gave him the money.”

After transferring $7,000 to Walter’s bank account from her own savings account, Meade says her chats with the man became less frequent, and finally, stopped altogether.

“I was taken for a fool,” Meade said, “and I was heartbroken...