Woman scammed by man she met on dating website

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A 71-year-old Palm Harbor woman has fallen victim to a scammer who took nearly $200,000 from her, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Catherine Short says she thought she had fallen in love with a man she met on the website ChristianMingle.com. Instead, after several months, she had been scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Deputies say they have yet to identify the man who stole from Short, and even more troubling, they may never identify him.

Short tells FOX 13 the relationship started with the man asking for expensive electronics. She says after weeks of corresponding online she trusted the man and obliged.

"I am a trusting person and it takes a lot for me to see that someone could hurt somebody at my age," said Short.

Then he began asking for cash directly.

"$185,00 in total. That's with shipping costs and I sold my house in Largo and sent every penny of it to him because he said he had a hospital bill in Panama and he couldn't leave the country until it was paid," said Short.

Short is sharing her story to prevent others from falling victim to a similar scam.

Deputies will run workshops next week across the county to educate people about fraud and how to avoid it.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Do your diligence, contact the sheriff's office. Speak with your family members and use all the resources you can to prevent this from happening," said Sgt. John Spoor.