ORLANDO — A Florida widow who thought she found the love of her life online was instead duped out of her life savings in a callous catfishing scheme, authorities said.
Diane Amanda Standish, of Orlando, says she fell head over heels for a man named Jerry Michael who she met on Match.com and who said he was a German contractor working in California.
“I never thought I could fall in love with someone on the telephone,” she told WKMG-TV. “But for some reason, he just said the right things to me.”
So she didn’t blink when he asked her to send him money when he fell into financial and legal trouble. Before she knew it, she had sent him $270,000. Then he disappeared.
“I’ve talked to a million people who said they met on eHarmony and Match.com and they’re happily married, so I didn’t have any reason to question it,” she said.
An investigation revealed that the photo Michael had posted was actually that of a married Bosnian diplomat who was unaware his image was being used.
Orlando investigators have tracked Michael’s email to South Africa, but they have told Standish there is no chance of getting her money back and that her case is currently inactive.
“I wish to God I could find him,’ Standish said. ‘I loved him and he said he loved me. He could be anybody, anywhere. I just don’t know.”