Carla Ann Whaley (70) was arrested at her home in Gilbert, Arizona on Monday for her involving in a “romance scam” that cost her victim, an unnamed Tennessee woman nearly $34,000.
The victim had told Gilbert Police in November that she had been feeling vulnerable and lonely since her husband died earlier in the year and found comfort speaking to a man she met on the Words With Friends gaming app who said his name was 'Garth Davis.'
According to court documents, Davis was actually Whaley who told the victim that ‘he’ was a project manager on an oil rig off the coast of Ireland.
When he started having trouble accessing money in his bank account he asked for money to be sent through cash cards and gift cards, which the victim did.
The widow explained that 'Garth' was easy to talk to and they became romantically involved in March.
When they moved their chats to Google Hangouts around the same time 'Garth' said he was having trouble accessing his bank accounts and began asking for cash and gift cards.
But when the woman broke her foot, making it difficult for her go out and purchase the cards, 'Garth' told her to start sending money to Carla Whaley, his 'friend' who lived in Gilbert.
The victim grew suspicious but by the time she had contacted police she had already
sent Whaley $20,000 in cash and $3,000 through CashApp.
When Gilbert Police went to Whaley's home to speak to her, she told police that the name 'Garth Davis' was familiar to her, but was “not on her list”.
However, when Whaley was brought into the Gilbert police station for further questioning in late December, she told police she “wasn't entirely truthful” the first time she spoke to them.
Police searched Whaley's CashApp and saw that the money she had within the app was being exchanged for cryptocurrency and bitcoin and then exchanged for cash.
Whaley had transferred just over $10,000 from the CashApp to her credit union account from July to August.
Whaley was arrested at her Arizona home and booked into jail on Monday. She faces one count of fraudulent schemes and one count of financing a criminal syndicate.
Detective Gary Kidder, with the Gilbert Police told AZFamily that this sort of scam is common.
“Most commonly, the subject that the person's communicating with will say they are out of the country, maybe they're in the military, deployed. They can be in a part of the country that doesn't make it easy for the people they're communicating with to meet with,” Kidder said. “They create that distance between them and the person they're communicating with."
Kidder added that once the subject builds trust, then they make their move to try to get money.
“They basically come up with some sort of medical problem or some sort of business crisis to where it's now an urgent issue - they don't have access to their personal bank accounts — now they ask the subject they're communicating with. They'll say, hey, I really need some money and quickly.
“As compelled, you feel to help somebody out. If you send them money and you don't know who these people are, and you've never met these people personally, they're going to accept that money, and they're going to turn around and require more money."
Kidder said that another common red flag you or someone you know is being scammed is if they are asking you not to send the money directly to them.
He added that if you notice a relative is speaking with someone online, open up the conversation about who that person is and how they met.