Stories about online romance scams are fairly common these days, but the one recounted by the Verge has some strange twists. For one thing, the victim wasn't an older person unsavvy about tech; it was a 32-year-old tech entrepreneur with deep pockets named Mike Vallejo. For another, this scam led not to online money transfers but to an old-fashioned car heist—Vallejo's Jaguar. And in perhaps the strangest twist of all, the scam culminated in a bizarre police sting in which the aforementioned Jaguar was demolished in a high-speed chase. As Ian Frisch recounts, the weirdness begins when Vellejo meets up with a woman from Tinder despite obvious warning signs—beforehand, she asked about his car and whether she could drive it, and about him bringing cash to pay for a hotel room. They had a late dinner at a Denny's near Portland, Oregon, before the woman drove them back to the place where she claimed to be staying (in a neighborhood known as "Methville").
She texted someone while they were still in the parked car, and eventually two armed men emerged to assault Vallejo and take the car. The woman went with them. Vallejo talked to police and shared his story on social media, along with the woman's profile, and soon was contacted by a man with info on the vehicle's whereabouts and the people trying to sell it. This person's "motives are still unclear to me," writes Frisch, but he did indeed help Vallejo and the police set up a sting that "turned into a disaster." The car got wrecked, but police arrested two 18-year-old males and, later, a 21-year-old woman, and their robbery cases are now working their way through the legal system. "The purported scammers were down on their luck and targeted someone whose priorities were accumulating—and boasting about—their wealth," writes Frisch. Read the full story. (Or check out other longform stories.)