The woman, who had recently lost her husband of 25 years, became a target after she began spending time on social media.

By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The woman, whose identity was not released, was trying to bounce back after the death of her husband of 25 years, KTVT reported.

She spent hours on social media, connecting with friends, when she came across a man who shared the same name and profile picture as the singer. They struck up an online friendship, she fell for the guy, sending him details about her life and family, and soon, came requests for help.

“That’s the first thing they do, is try to be your friend,” she told the station. “Get to know you and be comfortable with you.”

First, “Bruno Mars” asked for $5,000 “to help pay for rental cars he’d used on tour.” Then, requests got bigger. The woman sent a cashier’s check for $10,000.

She said she cashed out her bonds to help her online companion, sending cashier’s checks, for up to $90,000, she told KTVT.

More requests for money came thereafter, mixed with messages of affection for the woman. At one point, she received an engagement ring in the mail from “Bruno Mars.” The relationship consumed the woman.

Finally, Mars said he wanted to give up his tour and live with her in North Richland Hills, Texas. So she bought equipment and transformed her garage into a studio for Mars and a band.

Then when he was supposedly traveling to live with her, he was detained at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C. He was in custody until he paid a fee to the airport and pilots. He provided her with a police report and photos of the real Mars edited onto a stock photo of a handcuffed person, so she gave even more money, sending him a photo of the money she collected, she told KTVT.

Someone showed up at the woman’s house to pick up the cash, saying he was a security guard and that he needed to get the money quickly.

Once he was “freed,” Mars messaged her saying he needed $5,000 for jet fuel to fly to Texas. That’s when the woman finally realized the entire saga was really a scam.

She refused to give him any more, and that’s when she said the threats began.

“They threatened to poison and kill me if I didn’t get them the money,” she told KTVT.

She contacted police, who were able to trace cashier’s checks to two Nigerian citizens in Houston, according to the station.

Houston PD

Police say the money found its way into the bank account of one Chinwendu Azuonwu — a local man who was taken into custody on money laundering charges, along with an alleged accomplice, Basil Amadi, who’s facing similar charges. Both men were in court this week.

“I’m so ashamed that this happened to me,” the woman told KTVT-TV (Channel 11). “I’m so sorry that I helped this person, even though I thought it was a famous person.”




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