One of the hazards of online dating is that the person you are corresponding with may not be the person they really are. This was the case for Susan Rizzo.
“I sent the money because after two months of communicating I felt I was developing a relationship that felt real,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo exclusively told NBC 6 Tuesday about her financial loss and her journey on a dating site that began with a man who posted a handsome photo in June that went by the name Nicholas Shawn Wells Edwards.
NBC 6 cannot determine if the photo is legitimate or if the name is real.
Rizzo said he told her he was a US Army officer or contractor with the troop in Afghanistan.
“He had to go off to Afghanistan more than once when the riots and things were happening,” Rizzo said.
Between missions, the love flowed and the pair spoke on the phone and even made plans to attend the wedding of one of Rizzo's family members.
On August 14th, Susan wrote: “I feel my life is in limbo while waiting for your safe return.”
He instantaneously responded: “A lot didn’t go as planned … a lot of decision making amongst most of the special ops soldiers.“
Then 20 minutes later he added: “Except there’s a problem about my return because there’s a provision to it that needs me to handle my own private flight arrangement.”
“He had gone to Fallujah, Mosul, and was going to end up in Kandahar. Yes—and he told me on different missions he had lost men from his group and he was considered the military anthropologist so he was in a relatively safe position," Rizzo said. "He was doing the mapping and navigation.”
NBC 6 examined the dates on these transactions which were in the middle of August.
Rizzo told NBC 6 she was touched while watching the chaos unfold with the American withdrawal from the country.
“I am panicking. I am freaking out. I am sending him messages. I just need an alert that he’s safe—that he’s fine,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo told NBC 6 the man she put her hopes on later told her he spent all his funds getting out of Afghanistan and was in the Middle East and needed money to get to her in Florida. That’s when she followed his directions and transferred $25,000 into his bank account.
“I sent the money feeling it was right based on where we were at,” Rizzo said. "Monetarily I lost $25,000."
Susan got suspicious though we he came back asking for $300,000 as part of a business deal for them. She took out the money and even went to FedEx but stopped just in time.
It was at this point that she started to think it was all a ruse.
“I don’t want this to happen to somebody else and if there’s a way for me to get my money back that would be wonderful. I definitely can’t afford to throw that to the wind," Rizzo said. "However, for somebody else to get taken like this emotionally and financially—it’s embarrassing. It’s hurtful."
Rizzo contacted the FBI, but nothing came of it. NBC 6 has since directed her to contact the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and make them aware of the situation.
The advice from law enforcement—do not start wiring money unless you really know who you are dealing with—no matter what your heart says.