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Cops Bust Dating Scam in 'Operation Casanova'

More than 2 dozen are under arrest in Italy, accused of scamming women online
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2020 4:05 PM CST

(Newser) – Their jobs as pilots, sea captains, military or Interpol officials kept them on the go, unable to meet the women they were wooing online in person. That would happen, they told their victims, but first, they needed money for an emergency, such as a child's illness. Police in Italy said 15 suspects are in custody and another four are out on bail in the northern city of Turin in the dating scam. More than $1.7 million has been recovered during what police call Operation Casanova, the BBC reports. Some women lost their homes to the dating scammers, and others borrowed money to send to the men; one woman was taken for $1.6 million.

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The victims live in the US and China, as well as Europe, police found in a three-year investigation. The gang also scammed companies, per the BBC. The members got hold of companies' communications and got them to send money to the wrong accounts. The gang would then withdraw cash or transfer the money somewhere else. Police in 22 countries, in addition to the Italian investigators, analyzed 30,000 financial transactions and looked into 200 reports of suspicious activity. (In a US case, police said a con man disappeared after a woman gave him $80,000 toward a house and furniture.)

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