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Mail Order Bride Scam Victim Tells His Story To Federal Agents

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- An Apollo man's "big mistake" has now become a federal case after a recent Get Marty investigation.

The feds are investigating whether the people who apparently scammed him out of more than $100,000 are part of an international conspiracy.

Jerry Mentzel is angry. The 69-year-old says he was set up and ripped off by a mail order bride con artist. His story has gotten the attention of Homeland Security, and they interviewed him Wednesday.

Mentzel recently came to KDKA's Get Marty after what he describes as a sham marriage.

The woman he married is now believed to be in Tangiers, Morocco. She's just 24. One of the names she uses is Valantina Vlba.

Mentzel found her on a mail order bride site called He brought her to the United States and married her. It lasted less than two weeks.

"I could show her a better life, and she said, 'I'm a Moroccan. I don't want to be an American.' She wanted a Green Card," says Mentzel.

Now Mentzel is out nearly $100,000, most of which went overseas.

"This one would be a marriage fraud type of thing with a financial angle to it," said Assistant Special Agent David Abbate.

Federal agents won't comment on their two-hour conversation with Mentzel, saying they don't want to jeopardize their investigation.

Mentzel can't talk either, but KDKA's Marty Griffin is told he was happy to get the story off his chest to federal agents who may be able to go after his ex and any accomplices.

"I think other people need to be aware of what can happen," Mentzel says. "Whether they listen or not is going to be the big question. I had a lot of people tell me you're making a big mistake. I didn't want to believe that."

Sources close to the case tell KDKA this is a very difficult case to prove criminally, but they will try to pursue it.

Also, it's not just Mentzel. They think romance scams are costing victims in the U.S. more than $50 million a year.

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