Two phenomenons of the Internet age - bad online dating and Nigerian money schemes - came together for one Hatfield man who was almost swindled out of $46,000 this month, police said.
James Thelning, 64, of Hatfield, met someone who called herself "Mary Douglas" through an online dating web site, according to police. "Mary" told Thelning that she was going to Africa to star in a movie and needed some funds to cover the expenses, police said. She told Thelning that after the movie shoot, she was going to come to Hatfield to pursue their relationship, according to police.
Several "people" reporting to be Mary's business manager and then a representative of Mary's business manager, planned with Thelning to have him withdraw $46,000 from his bank account and deliver it to a courier at the Philadelphia International Airport, police said.
When authorities learned that Thelning was trying to withdraw $46,000 they initiated an investigation and by checking his email correspondences with "Mary" and her reps, traced them back to IP addresses in Nigeria, authorities said.
On May 19, Thelning, accompanied by undercover investigators, went to the Marriott hotel at the airport where he was to deliver the money to "Mary's" courier, "Soloh Batouya," according to police.
Investigators said that they located "Soloh," who told them that his name was actually Maxwell Gbogboade. Police said Gbogboade admitted that he traveled from Maryland to Philadelphia to take the money from Thelning, and that he planned to use it to buy a car and send it back to Africa, police said.
Gbogboade was taken into custody and charged with theft and related offenses. In his pockets police found, among other things, two cell phones and a piece of paper reminding him of the fictitious name he had chosen to go by, police said.