On line dating sites may have changed the way people look for love.. and the way scammers look for victims. Manhattan Beach P.D. says they have a man in custody who scammed at least eight women, one lost as much as $300,000.
Detectives are convinced there may be other victims. They call 52 year old James Bruce Rice a charmer. He described himself as a diamond broker. He owned nice cars and boats, but police say he financed his lifestyle by wooing, winning and then bilking women he met on online dating sites.
His scam? He gained women's trust, promised to marry them and then convinced them to invest in what police call his bogus investments like diamond dealing and catering. He used aliases including James Turner, Jimmy Turner and Jimmi Turner.
Sadly, this kind of scam has become pretty common.
When I was first assigned this story, I called Manhattan Beach PD, hoping to find a victim to tell her tale of woe. But MBPD said, no one wanted to talk. Who can blame her? She'd have to admit, she got taken in by this scam artist.
But online dating scams are so common, I already had a backup; not one of James Rice's victims but a woman who had had her own brush with a scam artist. Last year, she was brand new to the online dating scene. Her first connection was with a man who claimed to be retiring from the service and returning from Afghanistan. He wanted Sharon Hice to accept a lock box full of cash. She would owe the courier $30,000 but the money was supposedly in the box. She cut off contact with him but did hear from other men on the dating sites who had similar stories. She learned to avoid men who claimed to be diamond brokers, just like James Rice or deal in gold or oil.
Manhattan Beach PD says Rice's
victims live mostly here in the LA area.. Beverly Hills, Hacienda Heights,
Torrance, Redondo Beach, but there were two victims in two other states. If you
have information on James Rice please call Manhattan Beach PD.