GILBERT, Arizona (KTVK, KPHO) — A “romance scam” cost a woman nearly $34,000 and now a Gilbert woman is facing fraud charges. Officers arrested 70-year-old Carla Ann Whaley at her home on Monday afternoon.

According to court paperwork, the woman told police in late November she believed she was talking to a man named “Garth Davis” on the popular Words With Friends gaming app. The victim told officers she was lonely after her husband had died earlier that year. She told police she began talking with “Garth” in March 2021 on Google Hangouts when she started sending him cash cards and gift cards when he told her he was having trouble accessing his bank account. When she broke her foot and couldn’t leave her home to go to the store and buy the cards, “Garth” told her to start sending money to Whaley, who he said was his friend.

The woman sent Whaley $20,000 in cash and $3,000 through CashApp until July. The woman grew suspicious and called the police shortly afterward, who went to Whaley’s home to speak with her. According to court paperwork, Whaley told police the name “Garth Davis” was familiar to her, but it was “not on her list.” Court documents state that Whaley also told police she was helping a friend move money but did not tell officers who the friend was. Police found the victim had lost a total of almost $34,000.

In late December, Whaley was taken to the Gilbert police station for more questioning. Court documents state Whaley told police she “wasn’t entirely truthful” the first time she spoke with police and admitted receiving $20,000 in cash from the woman. Police searched Whaley’s CashApp and saw that the money she had within the app was being exchanged for cryptocurrency and bitcoin and then exchanged for cash. Whaley transferred just over $10,000 from the CashApp to her credit union account from July to August. Police say “Garth” is an unknown suspect. Whaley was booked into jail on Monday. Whaley faces one count of fraudulent schemes and one count of financing a criminal syndicate.

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