Kansas woman loses nearly $100K in celebrity impostor scam

A Leavenworth County woman lost $94,000 in a celebrity imposter scam by people living outside of the United States.

An investigation into the scam concluded with no criminal charges filed.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson issued a scam advisory to prevent others from becoming victims of similar schemes.

“This is an unfortunate situation, which saw an innocent woman being unknowingly taken advantage of,” Thompson said. “We’d love to pursue charges, but these internet scams are rarely solvable, and some of the hardest cases to prove because scammers could be anywhere in the world.”

The victim told investigators that someone who claimed to be country music singer Neal McCoy persuaded her into sending them cryptocurrency, cash, cell phones, passwords, gift card account numbers, and proceeds from selling an antique vehicle.

The victim said she met McCoy on a dating website in August 2021.

The victim eventually sent the scammers her personal information and new cell phones with active lines. When the scammers received her information, they changed her account passwords and created new credit card accounts.

The victim went as far as attending a concert and reaching out and contacting the real McCoy’s staff before discovering the scam, Thompson said. The victim said she found it difficult to realize the reality of the scam.

This “catfish” scam is similar to the story of a Kentucky woman who said she was scammed by someone who talked her into sending $10,000 in gift cards.

The Kentucky woman claimed she thought she was sending the gift cards to an actor who starred in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

Thompson offered these tips to help avoid being scammed:

  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you and you don’t already know them
  • Be cautious if someone only engages with you through text and email messaging
  • Avoid providing personal information to someone you don’t know
  • Never send money to someone – including gift cards
  • Know that you are in control of your online communications
  • If you absolutely must meet, do so in a public setting that is safe and let someone know where you’ll be
  • Ask for help from the police, your bank, family, or friends if you think you’re being scammed
  • Double-check email addresses when receiving emails and before clicking on any links