A Fort Worth woman was arrested recently in an episode that seems absurd on the surface. Unfortunately, it’s far more common than some would think. Allegedly, the woman swindled $1.2 million from an elderly man to fuel her gambling habit.
Woman said she had high medical expenses
There are no commercial casinos in Texas. Most Texans looking to play slots or table games travel to Oklahoma or Louisiana.
According to court documents, Lorraine Rew, 46, conned an elderly Indiana man into sending her $1.2 million. The “elaborate sweetheart swindle” was carried out over 16 months. Rew claimed she needed the money for medical expenses but actually used the money to fuel her gambling trips.
Rew was arrested Nov. 16 and has been charged with one count of felony corrupt business influence and 10 felony counts of counterfeiting.
Victim even took out personal loans
The affidavit filed in Tarrant County provided more details of the scam. Supposedly, Rew began talking with a New Palestine man named David Tieman on Twitter. In their talks about her life, she would tell him that her daughter was in need of medical services that Rew could not afford. Tieman began sending money in hopes of helping her.
What Tieman did not know is that Rew was using the money to fund her gambling trips to Oklahoma casinos. Federal Trade Commission Regional Director Matthew Wernz said these types of scams happen a lot.
“Unfortunately, online dating creates great opportunities for scammers.”
Over about 16 months, Tieman sent Rew an astonishing $1.2 million. Tieman pulled money from an IRA, a mutual fund, checking and savings accounts, cash advances and even took out personal loans.
Rew promised to repay Tieman
In the affidavit, there is an exchange through text messages that show how these discussions usually went. At one point, Rew asked for $20,000 for medication for her heart. She then put maximum pressure on Tieman.
“Unless I get my meds, I will not be around then.”
Tieman responded, “Ugh, honey; I am trying honey,” before eventually sending her the money via Cash App. Rew promised to repay him when her health insurance reimbursed her. Unfortunately for Tieman, Rew never even had a health care account, nor did she need the money for medical reasons.
Investigators found that Rew used much of that money for gambling, including visiting Oklahoma to go to casinos 324 times from December 2019 until April 2022. During her time gambling, she collected millions in winnings.
Romantic-based swindles on the rise
Wernz said romantic-based scams are continually growing in number. In fact, the scams have become the most expensive variation of fraud. Americans have lost $1.3 billion over the last five years from these scams. The increase in romantic scams in people aged 18-29 is rising faster than any other demographic, but the average amount of money lost is still highest for those over 70 years old.
Scammers tell their victims they have problems and need money, Wernz said.
“The numbers are so great that it really is a testament to how easy it is for someone to get lured into a romance scam, even if they are not actively looking for dating opportunities online. Scammers often use really pressing needs that they have for money to convince someone of their needs.”