A US woman thought baseball star Trea Turner was asking her for money. Instead, an online scammer stole over RM230,000 from her, police say.


Philadelphia Phillies' Trea Turner runs after hitting a single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Monday, April 29, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

In July, a woman in Towamencin Township was so outraged at an article critical of Phillies shortstop Trea Turner that she took to his defence on Facebook, writing in the comments section how hard she believed he was working for the team.

To her surprise, she then got a message from Turner inviting her to message him one-on-one on Google Chat. She did so, she said in an interview Friday, and was soon inundated with requests from him for money to help him buy property in Michigan because his wife had limited his access to his own bank accounts.

As they talked, she said Turner showered her with compliments, telling her how beautiful she was and eventually told her he loved her.

But, in reality, the 70-year-old wasn’t speaking to Turner but rather, an online impostor. And she paid US$50,000 (RM235,150) over the course of several months to a fraudster who police say misled the woman in an increasingly common trend of elderly people being fleeced through social media.

“He convinced me just by the way he put things: He called me ‘my queen’, ‘my heart’,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified because she fears retribution from the scammers. “I told him he needs to get his eyes checked.

“But it was a low period in my life, and I was down in the dumps,” she added. “I thought ‘Oh wow, this is very cool’.”

The woman said she had been sceptical that a professional baseball player who had signed a US$300mil (RM1.41 trillion) contract would need money from her. But the evidence he provided her, she said, was convincing.

The scammer posing as Turner sent her pictures of himself and his wife, Kristen, including a candid shot from the delivery room after the birth of their second son, Tatum. She also received photos of a credit card and ID bearing Turner’s name and likeness, as well as a custom, all-access pass to Citizen’s Bank Park in her name.

But after doing some investigating, she realised the pictures of Turner and his family she received were photos he had posted on Instagram. And a representative from the team confirmed to her that the pass was fake.

“I think a part of me knew it was wrong the whole time,” she said. “I don’t know if it was stupidity or just the pressure. He told me I was different, and I believed him.”

Towamencin Township Police Lt. Geoffrey Wainwright said Friday that the woman contacted police in November, and that the investigation into this scam, and who is responsible, is ongoing.

He said that the best defence against this type of fraud is an old adage: “If it seems too good be to true, it probably is.”

“No one of notoriety would be asking you for money,” he said. “And anyone asking you for money should give you pause, unless it’s someone you know directly and trust.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer/Tribune News Service

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