Agnes Overman thought she’d found love at last.
After surviving Hurricane Maria in her home of Puerto Rico, she met an American soldier based in Afghanistan through social media.
He shared pictures of himself in uniform and they spoke on the phone.
When he needed money, she sent it, nearly $4,000.
But the relationship soured when he asked for more money and she began to question him.
When she Googled his last name, she found a report from a TV station in Nashville, TN in which the man she was in love with was interviewed.
But he wasn’t stationed overseas. He lived in Monteagle, TN.
After reaching out the News4 I-Team, her worst fears were realized: she had been catfished.
And she wasn’t alone.
Soldier repeatedly contacted by women
Dennis Carter figured he’s been contacted by women from other countries at least twice a month.
The retired first class sergeant said it began in 2009 when he realized his Facebook account had been hacked and his private pictures taken.
Women from countries including Canada, Finland, Lithuania, South America and Germany all have reached out to him asking why he cut them off after they sent him money.
“What I do is apologize to them and say I'm sorry this happened to you but that's not me,” Carter said.
Carter explained that women often tell him that the scam artist, using his pictures, tells the story that he is a lonely American soldier based overseas who is looking for love and needs money to either survive or to travel to see them.
“I feel sorry for these women because he's gotten thousands of dollars from some of them,” Carter said.
He said he did tighten his privacy settings on Facebook, but the damage was already done: his personal pictures were already taken.
Carter said he is so inundated by women scammed by the criminal that he can’t respond to them all.
Scam victim devastated
Overman said she would like to talk to the real Sgt. Carter, but understands why he has to distance himself.
After all, she knows even though she came to love him, he doesn’t know her.
She knows that telling her story might stop other women from falling for the same trap.
“That is devastating. It’s a nightmare,” Carter said.