Catfishing con man uses photo of former ambassador to lure once-wealthy widow; runs off with $270,000

A Florida widow says she lost her life savings to a con artist she met on the dating website

Diane Amanda Standish told News 6 that she met a man who called himself Jerry Michael on the website, believing it was a match made in heaven.

But the man she believed to be a German contractor working on a project in Bakersfield, California, appears to have been a con man after Standish’s money.

Standish said she helped Michael out after he said he had fallen on hard times. She told the news station that she gave him money a number of times to cover a variety of expenses, including legal fees and bail money — but didn’t elaborate further.

“I went through my bank accounts and it was $270,000,” she said. “He could be anybody, anywhere. I just don’t know.”

Standish acknowledges that she didn’t heed’s warnings against sending money to people you’ve met online.

“I’ve talked to a million people who said they met on eHarmony or and they’re happily married,” she said. “So I didn’t have any reason to question it.”

The catfishing victim said Michael told her he would be moving to Orlando in order to marry her, which is why she felt comfortable sending him money. It’s unclear how or when Standish realized she had been scammed.

News 6 did some investigating on social media, and discovered that the man Standish knew as Michael had used photographs of a former Bosnian ambassador, claiming they were photos of himself.

The news station tracked down the former ambassador, Flamur Gashi, who had no idea his image was being used in the con.

Authorities in Orlando are no longer pursuing an investigation, after an email address Michaels used was traced to South Africa, and said Standish is unlikely to recover her money.