Slidell woman warns others about online relationship scams

Lori Wells holds a check sent to her from a man claiming to be from Africa.
Lori Wells holds a check sent to her from a man claiming to be from Africa.

SLIDELL, LA (WWL) - Scams on the internet are popping up in dozens of forms, but a woman from the New Orleans area says that a suspected scam artist tried to buy her love. Now the woman wants others like her to beware.

Lori Wells just wanted to find a new friend via the Internet. "I'm 46-years-old. I'd like to meet a guy out here," Wells said.

Lori began online chatting on Myspace with a few connections. None of the guys Lori met excited her, but began to scare her. "Eight out of 10 are in another country," Wells said. "We start talking and they say, 'Oh, I love you; oh, you're beautiful. Can you help me out? Next thing you know they're asking for money."

Lori says out of curiosity she began talking to a man who called himself Paul Herring. "We talked on the phone," she said.

In a month's time, she says the man with a Middle Eastern accent -- who has since deleted his profile on yahoo -- began to ask Lori to cash a check for him and send him the money, so he can come to the United States from Africa to be with her. "He calls me his wife. He tells me he loves me," she said.

A week later that check came. "'Lori, where are you? Let me know if you have sent the money to Maurice Williams," she was asked.

"We immediately had to shut down our account," she said. "It was a little scary."

But Lori says she has not touched it and simply kept contact to see if the scam was real. She said she verified with her bank the routing numbers were fake. But Eyewitness News tracked the name of the company it uses, and we found it's a real company based in Dallas.

"It's been about two and a half to three years," said Brenda Phillips, financial officer from Mioil Ltd. "We didn't hear anything about it for like 6 months and then when you called last week - this is the like the third time we got a call in the last couple of weeks that it started up again."

"We have not been victimized," Phillips said "They've tried desperately, but it has not happened."

In the meantime, Lori says she plans to end the contact now that she has learned that her suspicions were true. But she doesn't want someone else to walk her path and actually fall for the scam. That starts off as a wishful hope for love. "'Your smile is very intriguing and my daughter loves it!' They even pull in kids. As if!" Lori read from the screen of solicitors.

The FBI says there is an Internet Crime Complaint Center -- a partnership between the FBI and the

National White Collar Crime Center -- where you can report these scams.