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Alert: Valley woman duped out of $37K in 'romance scam' (Part 2)

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In a previous 3 On Your Side report, we introduced you to a valley woman who was duped out of $37,000 in the romance scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) In a previous 3 On Your Side report, we introduced you to a valley woman who was duped out of $37,000 in the romance scam. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Marna Daugherty shared her story of how she was scammed out of $37,000 by a man she found online. She cried as she explained. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Marna Daugherty shared her story of how she was scammed out of $37,000 by a man she found online. She cried as she explained. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

In a previous 3 On Your Side report, we introduced you to a valley woman who was duped out of $37,000 in the romance scam. With that said, you might ask yourself "how could someone fall for this?" Turns out, there's a scientific explanation.

[RELATED: Alert: Valley woman duped out of $37K in 'romance scam']

"He said he'd treat me like a queen the rest of my life,” says Marna Daugherty fighting through her tears. 

Daugherty shared her story of how she was scammed out of $37,000 by a man she found online. She cried as she explained. 

"How much I was so in love with him I wanted this. It was gonna be the romance of all times, this guy and me. I'm very hurt.”

Daugherty says she never actually met the man and knew him only through pictures he sent her, phone calls and email love letters that he would write.

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

Daugherty says she actually fell in love. And she was so head over heels, that she agreed to make several different deposits into his bank account. Deposits that eventually totaled $37,000. 

But it was all a scam. 

"There are a lot of hormones that change and neurotransmitters that get altered when you start falling in love." 

Athena Aktipis is a psychology professor at Arizona State University and says there's actually a scientific explanation as to why people like Daugherty lose their judgment and fall in love with an image without even meeting that person.

“They were falling in love with their idea of who that person was not actually who they are.”

In this case, those pictures are most likely of some innocent guy whose photo was stolen off the internet somewhere and used by the scammer.

Take the picture and add all those love letters, and you have a “romance scam” to lure in vulnerable victims like Daugherty.

“It's a full-on physical change that happens to us when we start to trust somebody deeply it's not just in our head, it's in our whole bodies.”

But what about the criminal side to all of this? Matthew Boyden is a supervisory special agent with the FBI.

“The fraudsters are incredibly talented in what they do and they're relentless. These scammers find weaknesses and for some people, it's loneliness or having that void in life so the scammers will prey on that,” says Boyden. 

And, Special Agent Boyden says the romance scam is hard to stop. 

Published reports estimate victims have been duped out of nearly $230 million and that's just from the victims who reported the scam. The dollar amount is actually much higher.

“Once they've stolen their heart, pardon the cliché, they go after their pocketbook.”

And, he says these con-men, like the one Daugherty was dealing with, could be anyone, anywhere. 

In fact, published reports suggest that criminal networks are using the romance scam to fund terrorist operations.

“It could be solo practitioner in his parent's basement overseas or it could be part of a criminal enterprise where you have multiple co-conspirators that are doing this but they can be absolutely ruthless and relentless.”

As for Daugherty, intellectually she knows she's been duped. However, emotionally she still feels attached.

"How do you think I must feel. Of course I wanted him to be real.” 

According to the FBI, victims are usually women who are over 40 and are either divorced or widowed. Last year alone, the FBI heard from 15,000 victims who were duped in this scam.

It's estimated that 85 percent of victims are too embarrassed to even report the crime.

Common Fraud Schemes: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes

File a Complaint with IC3: https://www.ic3.gov

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LiAna EnriquezLiAna Enriquez is a native of Arizona. She attended Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona.

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LiAna Enriquez

She then went on to Arizona State University. She graduated summa cum laude from the University’s prestigious, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.

LiAna started her news career with KTVK-TV as an intern. She loved it so much she never left! She has been with the station for fourteen years. Currently, she is the consumer investigative producer for Arizona’s top rated consumer segment, 3 On Your Side and is also a general assignment reporter. LiAna also reported for the station’s top rated high school sports show, ‘The Varsity Zone’ for five years.

In her free time LiAna enjoys cooking, watching movies, quading, and traveling. But her absolute favorite thing to do, is to hang out with her husband and beautiful daughters. She is a softball mom. She loves the beach and waterfalls! Her favorite team is the Arizona Cardinals and of course, the Sun Devils.

Life motto: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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