Scammer Targets Woman Whose Son Sent "Goodbye Mama" Text During April 27 Tornado

BEEBE, AR - Less than two months after her son sent his final "goodbye mama" text before he was killed in the April 27 tornado, this victim's mother became a victim herself.

A scam targeting her in a time of grief and vulnerability paid off.

Blinded by grief and loss, the tragedy surrounding Regina Wood would cloud anyone's focus and that's what the scammers bank on. Not only had Regina lost her son in the tornado, her husband died a couple of months before that.

This scammer spent nearly a month and a half "grooming" her. She thought the conversations and emotions were real but the only thing that was, was the five thousand dollars she sent him.

"I'm more vulnerable right now I found out," she said.

In the wake of her son's and her husband's death, Regina had nowhere to go.

"I thought talking to other widows would help me," she explained.

So Regina tried Facebook groups, and that's where this chapter of her story begins.

"A gentleman named Dr. Bruce Lenton," Regina went on. "He contacted me maybe a couple days after Jeffrey died."

A military doctor stationed overseas reached out to Regina. To her it was someone that would listen; someone that shared similar stories of loss.

"It was just somebody that I would have something in common with," she said.

Pictures were sent of his trips and missions, the phone conversations and e-mails went on for more than a month.

"I talked to him for ages and ages and ages," said Regina.

It was this way until the week of June 11. The story goes: he was leaving his post overseas and wanted to mail his personal belongings by private courier to Regina.

"I believed him at first," she admitted.

She felt the shipping documents he sent to her seemed legitimate and when the doctor's bags were delayed because more money was needed to send them on, Regina paid up.

"[They said] they needed 48 hundred dollars for a diplomatic tag," she said.

Regina sent the money by wire transfer through Western Union to Indonesia. As soon as she did, she never heard from the doctor again. She soon realized she was conned into sending money to a man that didn't exist.

"Devastated," Regina cried. "I felt like a fool."

But now this mother who was once vulnerable is angry and on a mission to warn others.

"That other women don't get hurt as bad as I did," she urged. "I'm hurt, but I'm fighting mad now."

According to the Arkansas Attorney General's Office, con artists employ countless tactics in their attempts to convince consumers to send money through wire services, since the scammers are hard to locate and it is difficult for victims to get your money back.

Sometimes it is possible, but you have to act quickly. If you or a loved one may have fallen victim to a scam like this, immediately contact authorities or the Attorney General's Office.

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