Dating Site Scam Artist Boondoggles Clearance Holder
Time and again I read stories about how a security clearance holder meets someone on a dating site, becomes smitten without even meeting in person, and then starts doing very foolish things like sending money or opening up new bank accounts for wire transfers from the person to move to another bank account. A recent Department of Energy (DOE) appeals case caught my eye just by the sheer audacity of the scam artist involved. Here are the highlights of the case:
This DOE contractor’s long marriage was not a happy one and he soon found himself visiting massage parlors up to five times a month paying for sexual services using money withdrawn from ATMs. Well, inevitably, his then wife found out about it and even though they went through several months of counseling, the ex-wife filed for divorce. Depressed, even suicidal at times, he turned to an over 50 internet dating site and within a week, was immersed in an online relationship with a woman living in another state.
Not long thereafter, the woman was requesting small amounts of cash for her “fashion business”, then eventually talked him into sending a total of $25,000, supposedly for her engagement ring; keep in mind they still have never met in person. Now, money started flowing in reverse, obviously for money laundering. The woman sent him amounts of $250,000, $110,000, and over $38.000 to move around in different bank accounts. This culminated in some attorney on behalf of the woman, sending him a deed of transfer for over 13 million dollars.
He eventually self-reported all of this information to the security office and subsequently had his clearance suspended. Why didn’t he recognize what was happening you ask? He was smitten and thought he was in love. A DOE Psychiatrist determined he met the criteria for mixed anxiety and depressed mood (adjustment disorder), a mental condition that can affect a person’s judgment, reliability and stability. The combination of these two factors blinded him to what was going on. Despite the contractor finally realizing and owning up to being scammed, his prognosis for avoiding future scenarios like this was evaluated as poor and there remained a concern his judgment may become impaired again in the future. As a result, the request for security clearance reinstatement was denied.