Prosecutor: Woman Swindled Kansas Widow in Romance Scam
A South Carolina woman who admitted to helping swindle an elderly Wichita-area widow out of more than half a million dollars in a romance scam is due to be sentenced Monday in Sedgwick County District Court.
Kathy Heistand, 68, pleaded guilty in May to the mistreatment of an elder person and theft.
An arrest affidavit said a 74-year-old recently widowed Kansas woman was contacted on Facebook in 2020 by someone who said his name was Victor Patrick and claimed to be a man working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Texas. The two developed an online romance, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Patrick said he'd be with the widow as soon as he retired, but meanwhile he needed money, and he asked the widow to send money to Heistand, who would give the money to Patrick.
The widow sent six cashier's checks payable to Heistand for a total of $532,000. The widow's financial institutions warned her it was a scam but she didn't believe it. During the investigation Heistand said she didn't know Patrick and that the widow sent her money as part of a business arrangement.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office is recommending five years of probation with 61 months in prison if Heistand violates probation, records show.
The DA's office said it is recommending probation because Heistand had a "lesser role in the fraud against the victim," she helped in the investigation. Paying restitution to the victim while on probation outweighs the benefit of sending the 68-year-old to prison.
The district attorney's office plans a Monday news conference to discuss the prominence of romance scams in the Wichita area, according to a news release.