ST. PETER — A rural Nicollet woman is facing a misdemeanor swindling charge for allegedly tricking an Internet friend in New Hampshire into sending her money for medical problems that didn't exist.
A St. Peter police officer received a call at about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 28 from the victim. She wasn't calling to report a crime, however. She was calling because she was concerned about a female who had received a heart transplant but had been returned home before she was healthy.
The officer eventually learned the victim, who is 49, had met Kayla Marie Thompson, 23, through an Internet support group a few years ago. Over time they became friends and started exchanging messages online for four or five hours every day. They never met in person and the victim had never been to Minnesota, she reported.
Prior to the call to police, Thompson allegedly told the victim a relative was ill and needed a heart transplant. Thompson also said the relative's step-father had taken the relative home and wouldn't check her back into the hospital until the victim in New Hampshire sent $400, according to a criminal complaint filed in Nicollet County District Court.
The officer eventually learned that a total of $1,300 had been sent to Thompson's PayPal account from the victim's account between May 2 and Sept. 3, the complaint said. The victim said she had been communicating with Thompson and a man for about two hours through a texting service Sept. 28 before she decided she would be sending another $400.
That money was not sent and the officer reported he learned there hadn't been a heart transplant or illness. The person named by the victim was at home, healthy and sleeping when the officer visited her parents in St. Peter.
When Thompson was interviewed, she told the officer the two women were starting an online craft business.