Medford woman scammed out of $600k by online catfish

MEDFORD, Ore.- A local woman is out over $600,000 after being scammed by an online catfish. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s now unsure how she’s going to take care of her 94-year old mother.

In October of 2021, a Medford woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was contacted by a man interested in companionship. He said his name was “Newton Scott” on Facebook, and provided photos which NBC5 determined are of an actor named Stephen Niese. She told NBC5 she didn’t normally accept friend requests from strangers, but because her son has just died from Covid, she was looking for emotional support.

By November 2021, Scott made his first request for $200 for cell phone minutes. After that, he requested money from her for things like emergency surgeries, food for his son, and travel expenses. The woman used every stream of money she could to help him.

“I was scammed,” she told NBC5, “I had taken money from my mother”.

Over the course of the next two years, she says she gave him over $600,000 through cryptocurrency and Apple gift cards. She finally discovered she was being scammed after she tried to meet the man in person in California. She told us she believes he grew a conscious and told her not to come or she would be kidnapped and held for ransom. Once she returned to Medford, she confessed everything to her boss this month.

“I got up the next morning, to go to work, and I arrived at work and I was greeted at the door and I knew I was being fired,” she told NBC5.

She says her boss fired her for her “lack of judgement” and claimed she would jeopardize the CPA’s office she worked in. Now, she and her family are struggling to figure out how to pay their mortgage as the woman’s retirement and emergency funds are completely depleted.

The woman told NBC5 when she went to look at Scott’s page again, she found he was following over a hundred elderly women. She says she’s scared other women will be taken advantage of even worse than she was.

Medford police are currently investigating. The FBI advises people to always research a person’s photo and profile and to never send money to anyone you’ve only communicated with online.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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