Two phenomena of the Internet age - bad online dating and Nigerian money schemes - came together for one Montgomery County man who was swindled out of $24,000 and was almost taken for $46,000 more, police said.
James Thelning, 64, of Hatfield, met someone who called herself "Mary Douglas" through an online dating site, police said.
"Mary" sent Thelning what she said were pictures of herself but were found to be of women from different websites, including pornographic ones, police said.
"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.
Thelning sent more than $24,000 in money transfers to "Mary" to cover her travel and expenses, according to court documents.
People claiming to be Mary's business manager and a representative of Mary's business manager then planned with Thelning to have him withdraw $46,000 more from his bank account and deliver it to a courier at the Philadelphia International Airport, police said. Thelning paid $5,000 for the courier to fly from what he believed was Nigeria, police said.
Authorities, who were alerted when Thelning was trying to withdraw $46,000, traced the emails to computers 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," police said.
Investigators said they located "Soloh," who told them that his name was actually Maxwell Gbogboade. Police said that 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.
Gbogboade was taken into custody and charged with theft and related offenses. In his pocket police found, among other things, a piece of paper reminding him of the fictitious name he had chosen to use, police said.