An Illinois widower was found dead hundreds of miles from her home after she was scammed out of $1.5 million by a man she met on a dating app.

Laura Kowal, 57, had been in a relationship with a man she met on called ‘Frank Borg’ for over a year when her body was discovered in the Mississippi River in August 2020.  

Her daughter, Kelly Gowe, received a call from a federal agent notifying her that her mother had been a victim of a scam and when she tried to contact her mother, discovered that she was missing.

While trying to find clues of where her mother went, Gowe told CBS News she found records that showed Kowal had wired Borg – who turned out to be a fake name – $1.5 million and a haunting note.

‘I’ve been living a double life this past year. It has left me broke and broken. Yes, it involves Frank, the man I met through online dating. I tried to stop this, many times, but I knew I would end up dead,’ Kowal wrote her daughter in a haunting letter.

On August 7, 2020, Kowal’s body was discovered near Canton, Missouri – nearly four hours from her home in Galena, Illinois – and her car was recovered nearly 50 miles from her body, reported WTVO

No formal ruling has been given for Kowal’s manner of death, but her autopsy determined she died by drowning. 

‘It’s the scammers, It’s the criminals behind those emails. It’s Frank Borg… this character. He killed my mom,’ Gowe said.

‘And everyone that is involved in this scam in any capacity, that’s moving the money, that’s placing a phone call, that’s hitting “enter” and “send” on an email — they’re all responsible for my mom’s death.’ 

Emails shared to CBS News showed within weeks of virtually meeting in 2018, Kowal and Borg were sharing emails telling each other they were in love despite having never met in person and he convinced her to send him money.

‘She had all these buckets full in her life, my mom did, but there was this one bucket that was missing and that was companionship. And that’s ultimately where we’re at now, is because of that,’ Gowe said.

According to her obituary, Kowal loved tending to her flower and vegetable gardens, participating in local golf leagues and volunteering through therapy dog work with her beloved golden doodle Effie at a nursing home.

Federal agents discovered that Borg’s photos belonged to a Chilean doctor and his emails were traced back to Ghana. 

Nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission, a government watchdog.

Reported losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion and on average, victims lost $4,400.

‘Digital tools are making it easier than ever to target hard-working Americans, and we see the effects of that in the data,’ said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Romance scammers are routinely setting up fake social media profiles to target victims online.