Dateline   |  May 17, 2013

'Wild, Wild Web', Part 1

Chris Hansen has lunch with a young woman who posted a fake picture online, saying she's looking for a man in his 70's.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tonight we begin with this craigslist post from a beautiful young woman who says she's looking for love . she'd be a great catch for any young man. except she says she doesn't want a young man. she wants an old man.

>> i'm a 35-year-old woman looking for love from an older man at least in his 70s.

>> is she for real? a "dateline" senior producer pretending to be a 76-year-old named sam gets in touch with her on the phone. she tells sam her name is jessica traverse and she's a single mom living in texas. she sends him another photo. without ever seeing him, jessica says she's ready to fly to new york with her baby and start a new life with sam if he wires $7500 to cover her expenses. sam makes it clear he has the money.

>> i got some savings. i got some savings.

>> instead of wiring it, sam says he has a nephew who happens to be in texas who could actually hand deliver the money. sam 's nephew is really a "dateline" producer and i'm coming along as his friend. we set up a lunch date at this restaurant and keep an eye out for jessica . and we have that photo she sent. so who is this woman?

>> how are you doing?

>> nice to meet you. i'm chris.

>> i'm jessica .

>> she says she's jessica .

>> how are you?

>> good.

>> jessica ? really?

>> but before we get to that, we tell her we're concerned about 76-year-old uncle sam .

>> so you got my uncle up in an uproar. i don't know what it is you're doing.

>> what do you mean?

>> i mean, he's all excited.

>> sweet old guy. he really is. he's lonely.

>> i wanted to talk to him today but he didn't answer.

>> i'm going to call him, see if he's thereme.

>> we want to make sure her heart is in the right place.

>> he's 76. how old are you?

>> i'm 35.

>> you're 35. because that's a little more than, you know, spring and winter.

>> and i told him too. the reason i'm looking for an older guy. i've tried a lot of young guys. i'm not like a person that's been around the block, you know what i mean . i've been with two, three older guys . i'm done with younger guys.

>> jessica tells us about the heartbreak of her earlier marriage. it's a sad, sad tale about how her ex-husband took off desserting her and their 3-year-old daughter.

>> do you get any child support from your ex?

>> no. i don't know where he is.

>> that's too bad.

>> he does not exist.

>> jessica says she hopes sam will be her knight in shining armor. the answer to all her prayers.

>> i want like a relationship, somebody that i can love, somebody that i can call mine, take care of, be there for him and him be there for me. like a regular good relationship, you know.

>> remember jessica has never met sam . never even seen a photo of him. even so, sam , she says, has already charmed her. but rest assured, she says, she's not interested in his money.

>> i told you i'm not about it for the money. i don't care if sam is broke. he makes me laugh. i've not smiled so much in god knows what.

>> wait a second. didn't she ask for money.

>> you asked for $7500. where did you come up with that number?

>> because the airline tickets. i wanted to ship my car there. so i had a car.

>> all without meeting this person face to face ?

>> i just wanted somebody who could love me and i could be with him and all of that.

>> such a romantic. except now jessica has some explaining to do. starting with why she looks nothing like the woman in the picture she sent us. now this is the post right here. you'll see that this is the picture that you posted.

>> uh-huh.

>> that's not really you, is it?

>> no. that was me when i was in high school .

>> in high school . do you think that's fair to post a picture outdated?

>> i'm going to be honest. it's probably not. the reason i did it, i don't feel good about myself and so i posted that, so that way maybe somebody would get to know me first.

>> get somebody in the door.

>> it's time for me to tell jessica who i am.

>> jessica , there's something i need to tell you. i'm chris hansen with "dateline" nbc.

>> the good news is i'm buying your lunch today.

>> i can pay for mine.

>> we invited you here. we'll pick up the tab. that's not the issue. jessica told us those pictures were of her in high school .

>> a totally different person. look at her nose.

>> did you have a nose job ?

>> i got to be honest with you. everybody changes over the years. i'm not being disrespectful. i don't think that's you.

>> it was me in high school .

>> what year did you graduate from high school ?

>> i stood back a couple of years. i don't remember the exact date.

>> you don't remember the year you graduated from high school ?

>> no.

>> jessica ?

>> i don't remember the exact year.

>> how could you not. everybody knows the year they graduated from high school .

>> it's time to let jessica know that we know about her lies.

>> you came here to get money. you have no idea to prove who you are.

>> i didn't bring my i.d.

>> you put a fake photo on craigslist and then you tell me you can't remember the year in which you graduated from high school . that is shady.

>> nice to meet you guys.

>> nice to meet you too.

>> jessica doesn't stay to finish her lunch. we watch as she walks across the parking lot into this gas station and then disappears out back. so where did she go? to see if we could learn more about her, we tracked her to this house in ft. worth.

>> i'm looking for jessica traverse, does she live here?

>> this man says he's her uncle.

>> she doesn't live here.

>> he's surprisingly candid.

>> she told us she was 35 years old with a 3-year-old child.

>> no.

>> how old is jessica in reality?

>> i think she's 18.

>> 18 years old.

>> she's not 35.

>> she's 18.

>> she doesn't have a 3-year-old child?

>> no.

>> she doesn't reside at this address?

>> no.

>> what do you make of this?

>> she is a scam artist .

>> if she is a scam artist , she has a new victim. remember the pictures that jessica said were hers --

>> meet cara mckin none, a freshman we tracked down in maine. jessica , it turns out, stole the photos from cara's facebook page.

>> i feel like knowing people are looking at that, thinking it's me. that's desperate. i would never write that or do that.

>> do you feel violated?

>> i feel absolutely violated. it's my own personal identity. and i feel like that's been taken from me.

>> what's more surprising is, we learned jessica was no stranger to cara.

>> she was one of my friends.

>> in fact, they went to high school together in the class of 2012 .

>> and to jessica traverse, you say what.

>> i don't have anything to say to her. i don't want to see her or talk to her ever again.