Tinder Romance Scam Update: A Scam Artist Might Escape Prison Time Again!
Iowa Scams are becoming more devious and innovative with each passing day, which is why they are on the rise. The FTC reported that about $550 million were lost due to online romance scams, and this is just the number reported; many victims out there don’t come forward and report the crime.
A woman in Pleasant Hill narrated how she lost thousands of dollars because of a scam. Lisa Oliver fell for the Tinder trap two and a half years back. She didn’t know the name of the man she met on the dating website, but she said she lost about $10,000 because of the scam. She added that she trusts people way too quickly.
Knowing The Motives of The Culprit
After numerous private investigations, the scammer’s name was finally identified as John Clarke.
The victim narrated how he never showed affection to her. Instead, he only cared about getting money and tricking people by getting phones and other electronics that he could sell and make some extra pounds. Clark has also racked up charges across the entire state.
Charges Against The Culprit
In 2019, Clark was charged with second-degree theft in Montgomery County. He had scammed a woman for more than $3000, and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. He also agreed to repay the amount. However, she did not get a single penny! Clark also pleaded guilty to felony theft as a habitual offender last November. He agreed to charge three iPhones that were worth $3,300 from a Woman’s Verizon account, that too without her permission.
Even though he had a huge criminal record, the plea deal actually included a suspended prison time, and he only got 2-5 years probation. Clarke is also accused of giving a woman a phony name and stealing an iPhone and a Playstation in Linn County. The woman says he had stuck her with a massive $1,633 bill. By the year 2019, she had read a story about him and realized who he was.
Clarke is also facing another second-degree theft charge in Polk County. He is accused of lying to get access to a woman’s Verizon account and ultimately getting away with a lot more than $1700! Clarke told the court that he tested positive for Covid and joined via phone during the pre-trial conference. Assistant Polk County Attorney Jaki Livingston says that if Clarke did plead guilty as charged, he would have to agree that he could get probation after a PSI.
Clarke explained, saying that he had no issues with that at all. The shocking part is that he is already on probation even before the recent charges. Moreover, Perales, an investigation officer in the Consumer Protection Division, said that he believes if more people came through, Clarke would most likely have to pay the penalty for his crime as well as his actions.
Perales says that if you look at it from the outside, a lot of people would say that a relationship went bad. However, they should know much better. He says that he believes that once you start looking into it, as well as the inner workings, and start putting all the pieces together, you realize this is a cold-hearted scheme to deceive people and take advantage of them emotionally as well as financially.
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The Final Outcome
Not all of the cases against Clarke resulted in criminal charges. He did find a small loophole, and he thought it was the perfect one, says the victim. Lisa Oliver noted that the police would not touch her case, and she ultimately filed a civil small claims case. Oliver won the case last month when Larke failed to appear in court. This was when the Polk County Judge ordered Clarke to pay Oliver $6500 with interest. However, collecting that money is not easy at all. Oliver filed the paperwork to find Clarke’s wages; however found out that Clarke was not even working.
Oliver also says that it has been 2.5 years since all of this started, and seeing any of the money she deserves will be a blessing for her. Such scams are increasing at a breakneck pace. There are people out there who are always looking for ways to scam you, which is why you need to be vigilant all the time. Do not trust anyone you meet that easily. Remember, some people are always looking for the perfect opportunity to win your trust and get a hold of your money. Getting your money back from scammers is hard as well. Olivers’ case is just an example of that. It is always better to be safe.
The Attorney General’s office says that you can help in protecting yourself from falling for any scam by remembering the acronym ‘TIP.’ every scam is going to come with a THREAD to raise your emotions, IMMEDIACY to act, and most importantly, it is always going to include a PAYMENT in one way or another. If you think you are a victim of a romance scam or might know someone who was, then make sure to contact the IOWA Attorney General’s Office immediately to file a complaint.
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