DETROIT – Tom Ernsting radiates the kind of handsome silver-fox good looks of a character right off the Hallmark Channel, just the sort of guy that plenty of women would love to meet.
© Tom Ernsting
Tom Ernsting has built up a following of more than 150,000 on Instagram but his image has been used repeatedly by romance scammers to rip off women who are looking for love.
Unfortunately, Ernsting has heard from way too many scorned women.
“They scream at me and they yell at me for ruining their lives,” said Ernsting, 60, who has a summer home in South Haven, Michigan, and spends the winter in Naples, Florida.
Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
“The stories I’ve heard are insane.”
One woman claims she handed over her credit card information to him and then he racked up $30,000 in charges.
Election 2020: Kamala Harris may finally change how corporate America sees and treats Black women
Coming soon: Chipotle Mexican Grill to open its first digital-only location
Others were upset that they sent him $500 to help him get across the border into the United States so that he could travel to see them but he never showed up. Some claim they lost money after they put cash on Apple iTunes gift cards to send to him.
“It’s just crazy,” Ernsting said. “It definitely took off during COVID because I think people were even more desperate and more lonely.
“It’s sad because they fall in love with me.”
Ernsting, who has worked as a professional model, says he did not reach out to these women via social media or dating apps and he doesn’t have their money.
Ernsting does have a significant social media presence that scammers have impersonated in order to steal money from women who are desperately looking for love.
Sometimes, he’s heard from a dozen upset women in a day who say they’ve been scammed by crooks using his pictures.
Some sexy shots online only make some copycat accounts more intriguing.
TMZ online highlighted Ernsting’s shirtless look doing yardwork in August under the headline “Hot Dad Alert.” TMZ said it “teamed up with smokeshows from around the world to create some eye-popping photo galleries with a DIY flare.”
The TMZ report noted: “When Tom Ernsting isn’t sharing these dirty photos for you to plant yourself in front of, he loves to explore the world, focus on his fitness regime and spend quality time with his son.”
Sorry to be blunt, but is a guy whose buff photos are highlighted on TMZ going to be looking for love on Facebook? Really?
Ernsting, who grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan, retired early from a job as a sales executive in the hotel industry but then went to work as a model and freelance event manager. The pandemic hurt the event business, he says, but modeling is picking up some.
He has built