Tuesday, August 5
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A photo of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was used in an online dating scam that cost an Indiana woman $150,000, state officials said Tuesday.
The image of Fox, likely taken from a Facebook page he used mostly during his campaign, was used to create a fake profile on a dating website, Fox's spokesman John Barnes said.
"I knew the minute I saw the picture it was him," Barnes said of the image of Fox.
Barnes, who spoke with the victim, said that the con artist started a long-distance relationship with her and asked for money over time. She eventually went to police, but by then she said she'd already sent nearly $150,000.
Barnes called the situation unfortunate.
"I know personally the attorney general is saddened and very upset that his image was used in this scam," Barnes said, noting that the con artist chose someone who oversees consumer protection and warns citizens of scams.
No arrests have been made, and Sgt. Chad Hill of the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department in Indiana said at this point they don't know the identity of the person behind the scam. He also said they don't know how Fox's picture was selected for the fraud.
The image of Fox used in the incident has since been removed from Facebook. Barnes said it's a lesson to people who have Facebook pages for companies or candidates in particular.
"When you have a page for a company or candidate, by its very nature you want it to be seen by people. But then you run the risk of people being able to take that information and use it for nefarious purposes," he said. "Be as careful as you can and be cognizant that anything you post has entered the public domain."
Law enforcement officials are investigating, and Barnes said his office has asked to be kept in the loop.