Two men in Florida have been arrested for running a con on elderly victims across the country in which authorities say they would meet through online dating sites and then swindle them out of money.

Leslie Lallande, 65, and Marlin Perra, 63, were charged in New Jersey with one count each of money laundering conspiracy. While federal prosecutors say no victims were from New Jersey, wire transfers traveled through a Federal Reserve facility in the state during processing.

The victims were from all over, according to authorities. Texas, Mississippi, Colorado and Oregon. One victim became convinced that one of these men going by the name “Damen” had been overseas and lost his wallet with all his credit cards, authorities say. Then became convinced to eventually fork over $150,000 to help.

Another victim was tricked into thinking a “Patricia” was converting a home into an orphanage and needed $115,000 to complete the project, authorities say. The victim sent at least that much according to law enforcement.

I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. I don’t care how old you are. How can you be this gullible? What rock are you living beneath that you never picked up enough street savvy to know not to send money to people romancing you that you never physically met?

Often a victim’s financial greed leads to them being taken in a scam. In these cases, it’s a different sort of greed. A love greed. Someone so desperate for a relationship or even just attention that they’re willfully suspending all disbelief and all rational thought because they’re that greedy for love.

Am I letting the alleged conmen off the hook? Absolutely not. Lock them up forever. Am I partially victim-blaming, too?

You bet I am.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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