Those allegedly behind an elaborate Tinder scam used this photo of Mark Cain to create an identity for one Dale Plumides.
A man allegedly involved in a Tinder ‘scam’ scam that bilked Kiwi women of more than $1 million has left New Zealand, and a woman suspected of helping him has been given a warning by the police.
The Herald on Sunday has learned that the woman is also believed to have lost money to the alleged scammer.
One of the victims, Joanne (not her real name), has described how she handed over $540,000 in the alleged scam after connecting with a man on Tinder in July 2021.
The man was named Dale Plumides on his profile, which used a photo of a smiling, suiting man with silver hair. It was later revealed that the photo was actually of a Dallas real estate agent named Mark Cain with no connection to the case.
Joanne, in her 50s, swiped right on the man, who she said was a 58-year-old man from Auckland, and messaged him the next day. The two talked regularly for a couple of weeks before he sent her his email address.
Plumides told him he was an engineer/independent contractor who was in Dubai working on a bridge. He stated that he would be back in the country in a few weeks. He also sent a news video about the bridge that showed a photo of Cain (who Plumides pretended to be). It would later be revealed that the woman presenting the so-called news was a contract actor from the UK who was told the videos would be used to help people learn English.
Mark Cain is a real estate agent in Dallas with no connection to the case.
“I just want to spend the rest of my life enjoying the fruits of my labor,” Plumides told Joanne in an email. “I want a woman who will be my best friend and companion in everything. I’m talking about a relationship where we will continue to love each other more, as the days go by, until we can’t make love anymore and all we do is play bingo LOL”.
He also referred to Joanne as “my dancing lady”.
The pair spoke regularly on the phone, but Plumides, who had an American accent, said he could not use Skype in Dubai.
About a month after he started speaking, Plumides said there had been an accident at the workplace that resulted in several workers being injured. He asked if he would pay money to help the staff. He sold some jewelry and agreed to send $1000.
A few weeks later, he asked Joanne to log into his bank account, through a link he sent, to check the $9.2 million he was supposed to pay for the bridge work. If she had, he wanted her to transfer the money to one of her colleagues.
When Joanne, who initially said she didn’t want to log into the account, did as she was asked, she said the account was frozen due to unpaid taxes.
Plumides then asked him to help by sending money for unpaid taxes. He promised that once it cleared up, he would return the money.
Joanne first received a $22,000 overdraft to help, before selling her home and agreeing to send another $228,000 to cover more tax issues.
A month later, Plumides said he still couldn’t get his money. This time he needed $290,000. Joanne, hoping that paying the extra money would mean she would get her money back, agreed.
“That must work dear,” Joanne said.
“So please make sure this is before you pay or we will lose our house.”
He replied “don’t worry baby”.
Advertise with NZME.This fake news video featured a photo of Dallas real estate agent Mark Cain, pretending to be Dale Plumides.
“I’m 100 percent positive this time… We’re fine love, I’m sure,” he said.
He ended the email by calling himself “your prince charming.”
Plumides eventually stopped contacting her after she claimed her son died. Joanne then contacted a private investigator and the police in April last year.
On Wednesday, Joanne met a police officer who told her her money had been sent to a woman living in New Zealand. That woman, who the Herald on Sunday understands allegedly received money from other victims, is believed to have sent that money to a man who also lived in New Zealand.
The officer told Joanne that the woman had admitted to sending the money, but had also sent him hundreds of thousands of her own money. The police had considered charging her for alleged money laundering, but decided to give her a warning.
The officer also told Joanne that the man, who the Herald on Sunday understands was allegedly behind the elaborate scam, has left the country.
Police are understood to have been unable to identify what involvement the man, who is known to police, had in the scam, other than receiving money from the woman who was tipped off.
Joanne told the Herald on Sunday she was “incredibly angry” when police told her the woman had been given a warning.
“This is not a teenager who stole candy from the local countdown.
“I feel sorry for the victim, but she knowingly knew that large sums of money were going into her account and then passed it on to him,” says Joanne.
Joanne is also upset that the man was able to leave the country.
She believes that “it’s almost like it’s okay to scam people… why hasn’t someone done something and charged him?”
“Why didn’t the case go to a judge [to] for a judge to decide whether or not someone should be held responsible.”
Joanne will make a complaint about the investigation to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
He said the last year had been “horrendous”.
“My health is worse, my mental health is terrible. I had a breakdown. I just cry and I can’t stop. I struggle to leave the house without having terrible panic attacks.
“I’m in terrible debt, which means I’m only getting three or four more hours of sleep a night as I’m pacing from stress most of the night.”
He hasn’t told any family or friends, and he worries about what will happen when they find out about his money.
He has had to work outside the city for more money, and it has required a long commute.
A police spokesman confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that the woman who received the money before allegedly handing it over to the man was not charged.
“The police have thoroughly investigated this matter and, taking into account the circumstances of all those involved in this matter – and the Attorney General’s prosecution guidelines for public interest prosecutions – proceeded to issue a warning.
“Some of those involved in this matter are overseas and as such the New Zealand Police are limited in what action they can take.”
When asked if police could confirm whether staff were actively using foreign authorities to locate the man, the spokesman said “some wider inquiries are being made”.
Cain, whose identity was used as part of the elaborate scam, told the Herald on Sunday he was “upset” to learn that he and other people’s images were being used without their knowledge or permission .
“It is even more distressing to know that these images are being used in conjunction with a false identity for the purpose of taking advantage of people, especially women, who are preying on them and appealing to their compassionate personalities to extract money from it,” he stated.
“It’s sad to know that we live in a world where people, to earn a living or just for sport, take advantage of others without taking into account those who do harm,” he said.
FAIR-USE COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as citation, syndication, criticism, commenting, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by the copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational, or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
-This article has no negative impact on the original works (It would actually be positive for them).
-This article is also for teaching and inspirational purposes.
– It is not transformative in nature