An investigation into an online dating scam turned into the initial victim facing charges of trying to hire someone to kill her mother.
Garner police arrested 66-year-old Roxanne Reed for felony conspiracy to commit murder against her 88-year-old mother, Emma Maurine Hammontree.
Investigators said they found out about the plot when Reed reported losing money to someone online.
“A romance-type scam, some identity theft but during the process of that investigation, we were able to get a hold of text messages that obviously led to the charge that we’re looking at today,” Cpt. Joe Binns said.
“The text messages themselves kind of laid out the whole specific scenario of how they were going to do it, what was going to happen, when it was going to happen.”
Court documents identify the co-conspirator in this case as an online persona going by the name Scott Humpal. There are dozens of posts on sites such as DatingScams101 and WatchForScams which warn about online scammers pretending to be someone named Scott Humpal, befriending women through Facebook and other social media, and then duping them into sending money.
CBS 17 got in touch with the real Scott Humpal, the owner of several physical therapy centers in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Humpal said his name and photos have been used in various schemes over the past seven years. He said he has received hundreds of messages from around the world connected to these cases.
Humpal recently did media interviews in his hometown about some of the incidents, as well as a Florida case. In response to his name being inserted in the Garner murder-for-hire plot, he told CBS 17 News “I am caught up in a soap opera.”
The Garner investigation is ongoing, but police they took action as quickly as possible to make sure that Hammontree stayed safe.
Binns said detectives are trying to determine the identity of the person on the other end of Reed’s texts.
“This is a very detailed type of case where she’s a victim and she’s a suspect and there’s just a whole lot of different pieces of this that we’re still trying to put together,” Binns said.
“She was a victim of a romance scam where she sent money,” he said.
“Never send money to someone you don’t know. Never take out loans to send money to somebody you don’t know. Those types of things. Know who you’re talking with on the internet. The internet is a crazy place and you want to make sure you know who you’re talking with.”
Binns said there may be additional charges, as it appears Reed took out a loan to send money to the scammer, and may have committed fraud herself in doing so.
Her bond is set at $500,000.