A 64-year-old man named James Thelning, from Pennsylvania, almost lost $46,000 in the name of his love of a woman named Mary Douglas. He and Ms. Douglas had been exchanging emails, and Douglas told Thelning she needed the money to travel to Africa to star in a movie, and then back to Pennsylvania to be with him. Thelning had been instructed to meet a courier named Soloh Batouya at Philadelphia International Airport with the cash.
Federal law requires a bank to notify the government of any withdrawal over $10,000. Without the intervention of the feds, the poor old guy might have been out love and a heap of dough.
Police were notified that Thelning was withdrawing money to send to a woman he met on the Internet and began an investigation. As it turned out, Mary Douglas was a man with a hankerin' to buy a car and ship it back to Africa.
Maxwell Gbogboade, 43, of Silver Springs, Md., was arrested at the airport with two cell phones, a check register with Thelning's name, address and home telephone number written on it, and reminder that said, “My name is Soloh Batouya.”
Before you go thinking that Thelning is just a dunderhead, you ought to know that these scams exist because they actually work on vulnerable people every day. Maybe you wouldn't fall for one, but you might know someone who would? There's an FBI warning page for what to look out for.