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CRIME NEWS     CRIME ANALYSIS     TRUE CRIME STORIES
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CRIME NEWS     CRIME ANALYSIS     TRUE CRIME STORIES
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 February 15, 2024

Fleetwood Mac Backup Singer’s Wife Details Horrific Encounter With Romance Scammer

In an era where digital love stories are as common as traditional tales, one woman's search for connection turned into a financial nightmare.

Liza Likins, a respected backing singer, was deceived into sending $1 million to a scammer, highlighting the brutal reality and expanding crisis of romance scams in America.

After her husband Greg's passing in 2020, Liza Likins, who had collaborated with famous musicians like Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, turned to social media seeking companionship. This move unknowingly led her into a scam that would cost her dearly.

A scammer, going by the name 'Donald,' claimed to be a gold miner in Australia. For two and a half years, he developed a romantic relationship with Likins, convincing her of his love and financial troubles. Trusting in the future 'Donald' depicted, Likins ended up transferring a total of $1 million to him.

This incident is part of a broader trend where Americans were defrauded of $10 billion in 2023, a 14% increase from the year before. Romance scams were especially harmful, with losses amounting to $1.14 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The average loss per victim of romance scams was $17,811, underscoring the severe financial and emotional toll these scams take on individuals.

The Emotional Toll of Romance Scams

Victims of romance scams, like Likins, often experience prolonged engagement with the scammers, who weave elaborate tales of fake emergencies or investment opportunities to solicit money. Likins' case was a textbook example, resulting in her losing all her savings and even selling her house to support 'Donald.' The repercussions of these scams are not just financial; Likins admitted to feeling suicidal upon learning the truth about the relationship she had valued so deeply.

Highlighting the scam's sophistication, 'Donald' used photographs of Raho Bornhorst, a German life coach, to create his fictional persona. This misuse of identity not only victimized Likins but also unwittingly dragged Bornhorst into the scam's aftermath, causing him to receive messages from women who believed they were in a relationship with him.

The scale of these scams is staggering, with significant losses also reported in investment scams ($4.6 billion) and imposter fraud ($2.7 billion) in 2023. The preferred methods of money transfer in these scams were bank transfers and cryptocurrencies, further complicating the victims' recovery process.

The Role of Social Media in Scams

Social media platforms have become the primary battlefield in the war against scams, with losses totaling $1.4 billion in 2023 alone. This alarming statistic underscores the necessity for regulatory and social media platform intervention to protect users from these nefarious activities.

The banking industry, overwhelmed by the scale of these scams, has called for government and social media industry support. Paul Benda, the executive vice president for risk, fraud, and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association, articulated the industry's desperation, mentioning tellers reduced to tears while trying to convince customers not to fall for these scams.

Unfortunately, banks are often powerless to reimburse victims of romance scams, as the transactions are considered consensual.

Lessons to Learn from This Tragedy

Despite the grim reality of scams, there are valuable lessons to be derived from such incidents:

1. Vigilance on Social Media: Always approach online relationships with caution, particularly if the other person's story seems unusually dramatic or they are quick to profess love.

2. Financial Safeguards: Never send money or share financial details with someone you've only met online. It's crucial to verify their identity through multiple, independent means before considering any financial assistance.

3. Support Networks: Don't isolate yourself. Share your online interactions with trusted family or friends, as they can offer perspective and might notice red flags that you've overlooked.

It's important to stress that no precaution can guarantee absolute safety from scams. Crime can strike anyone, and victims should not be blamed for their trust and openness to love.

Why This Story Matters

This story is a potent reminder of the evolving threats in our digital age, especially as they intersect with the human need for connection and love. It underscores the vital need for increased vigilance, education, and regulatory measures to protect individuals from the predatory tactics of scammers.

Liza Likins' tragic experience with a romance scammer serves as a stark warning of the dangers lurking within the online dating world. Her loss of $1 million to 'Donald,' an entirely fictitious persona using stolen photographs, underscores the critical need for awareness, regulatory action, and better security measures on social media platforms. The alarming increase in scams, particularly those conducted via social media, email, and bank transfers, highlights a growing epidemic of digital fraud that demands immediate attention from the banking industry, government, and community at large.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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