Easton man looking for love a victim of online scam

Author: , Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published: Oct 17 2013 05:12:03 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 17 2013 06:37:43 PM EDT
EASTON, Pa. -

A lot of people go looking for love online, but just like in the real world, the cyber world isn't always what it seems, and that could end up costing you more than just heartache.

"Her personality, there is so much caring," said William Hank.

Two years ago, Hank, 60, of Easton, said he was contacted via Facebook by a woman using  photos of a smiling brunette and calling herself Sgt. Kimberly Copenhaver.

"She was far above anyone I ever met," Hank said.

Copenhaver said she was stationed in Afghanistan, and the two began a relationship online.

"We always managed to say we love each other," explained Hank, who planned on that love coming to a crescendo Wednesday.

Hank said he paid nearly $2,000 to help her visit. The two were to see each other for the first time. Hank was going to propose.

Hank's nerves, however, began to show while he waited inside the terminal at Lehigh Valley International Airport for Copenhaver to show, which she never did.

"To be honest, the word is devastating," Hank said sadly.

To make matters worse, Hank said he believes it was all a hoax, and the woman in this picture is not who he thought she was.

Despite official looking e-mails, the family said the military told them there is no record of a Sgt. Kimberly Copenhaver, nor was that name on the flight list.

Niece Shirley Schaneberger said the sending of money was her first red flag.

"She didn't ask him for any money, but I think it was her own way of being slick, but saying I need to break my contract and I need this much money," she said.

Hank isn't the first or the last to be what's called catfished. Most famously, NFL player Manti Te'o carried on what he eventually found out was a fake online relationship.

The U.S. Army does warn about such scams and says to be extremely suspicious if anyone asks for money and uses Western Union.

The FBI said online romance scams have cost victims more than $55 million.

Ironically, Hank spoke about such scams just before Copenhaver was set to land.

"It's sad there are people dressed up pretending they're service men and women and they're not," he said.

Hank is now out thousands of dollars, stuck with would-be gifts, including an engagement ring and necklace. He said what hurts the most, however, is knowing someone used patriotism to prey on the hearts of others.