Romance email scam drives father to suicide

Filed Under: Spam

Broken heart
A ghastly story reaches me of a man who committed suicide, after losing $50,000 to West African romance scammers.

67-year-old Al Circelli, shot himself in the living room of his home in Yonkers, New York, after - his family say - he became embroiled in an international romance scam that caused him to lose thousands of dollars and even steal from his relatives.

Circelli's son Peter says he stumbled across evidence that his late father had wired considerable amounts of money to Ghana, and discovered email messages and photos on his father's laptop supposedly from a woman called Aisha, who wanted to come to the USA to begin a new life and promised to bring a small fortune with her

According to media reports, "Aisha" needed money to be sent to her in Ghana via Western Union to pay for expenses - and when Circelli ran out of his own money, he took out credit cards in his son's name and stopped making mortgage payments.

Peter Circelli says that his father commited suicide on the day that "Aisha" was due to arrive in the USA but, of course, she never showed up. Bizarrely, an email message has been found on the dead man's laptop from a Ghanaian intermediary in the money transactions claiming that "Aisha" had also killed herself.

What's really sickening about criminal scammers is that they are taking advantage of the vulnerable - whether the victims be middle-aged men and women who are guilty of nothing but a desire to find love, or the naive who believe that there investment opportunities which arrive out of the blue could bring them fortunes, there seem to be plenty of people who do still fall for these scams.

And, as we see in Al Circelli's story, can actually end in real tragedy.

* Image source: Face it's Flickr photostream (Creative Commons)

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.