Fort Myers Beach man lured by romance, scammed out of nearly $1K

Looking for love came with a costly price tag for one Fort Myers Beach man.

Captain John Burkay has a love for the beach and boating. So when he got a text message from a young woman named Jennie who seemed to have similar interests, he took the bait.

“We started talking and she said she would like to go with me and sail around the world and she would enjoy that immensely,” said Burkay.

He’s got a bad shoulder so he thought she could help him out on the boat. But instead of setting sail and finding romance, a few weeks in, she started asking for money.

“I bought her a plane ticket, a one-way plane ticket to here…then I sent her another hundred and fifty so she had spending money,” he said.

Burkay says he spent close to $1,000 on Jennie before he realized: He’d been catfished, or lured into sending her money.

“The scammers are very good at finding people that are vulnerable, finding people that are lonely, people that are older,” he said.

Now that he’s learned his lesson, he says you need to pay attention as well.

“If there’s some attractive woman that’s trying to get money from you or ask you to send a gift card for airplane tickets, it’s not gonna be true,” said Burkay.

Last year, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Never send money to someone you’ve never met. Be leery of anyone who says they love you quickly or claims to be from the U.S. but is overseas for work or in the military.

“I believed in what she told me,” he said. “She seemed sincere and honest.”

And go into any relationship with your eyes wide open.

Here are some helpful links to avoid getting tricked by romance scammers:

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Briana Harvath
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.