I have added this page because it is important to speak out and be heard about what has happened to you. This page is not for photographs (they are stolen) or details, and is not meant to be a database of scams or scammers, but more the personal expression of what has happened and the impact of that. Expressing this, if only this once, is an important step towards healing…
If you would like to add your story here, please email it to me.
For readers, remember, these are not my views, but the views of the victims, in their words. It took courage to share them here.
Stories alternate in colour to distinguish them.
Story 1 – AW
I fell hard for a man who called himself James Mares after weeks of Messaging back and forth. I had received messages from him interested in getting to know me, but didn’t respond. Several messages later, still didn’t. Finally, after a week, he sent a simple “hi.” I took this opportunity to let him know I wasn’t interested in a relationship; but that I appreciate making friends with whom I have things in common. Little did I know that this man would become as dear to me as anyone I had ever known, in as little as a month.
Saying he was self-employed Engineer in China, he was preparing to come back to the States…and an hour or less from where I live. He told me he couldn’t “cash” his final paycheck being in a foreign country heading for the US. He needed help to finish paying his ticket to the States. He sent a copy of the ticket, where it indicated he needed $300 or so to pay it off. The ticket was official looking. He had sent me pictures of himself at “home” doing things in his yard, etc. How could I doubt his reality?
His expressions of tenderness and care melted my heart…along with the most loving of poetry…and before I knew it I was as much in love with him as he was with me. There were red flags throughout, which I pushed aside, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. My friends and daughter told me this was a scam. But I didn’t want to believe them. I didn’t hear from him for a week after he should have gotten his flight. Can’t recall why. He was staying at a hotel, being charged $285 for each day out of 9 days. He said he had his “papers” taken by the hotel owners…and was subject to arrest by the Chinese government. I allowed my heart, rather than my mind, decided to borrow the money for this.
Next thing, he was in an accident on the way to the airport, which killed the taxi driver, and left him in a horrible condition, requiring surgery. His “doctor” sent me a message that he was unconscious but would contact me. This does not occur. Once “awake” he told me he believed my prayers saved him (oh, yes, he did affirm that he, too, was Christian, as am I). And then, he let me know he had to go to the business office…obviously to discuss what he owed.
I finally woke up to the fact that I was being scammed for money. I sent him a final e-mail letting him know that, after checking with my bank, learned that he could indeed “cash” his paycheck where he was in order to get back “home.” And I never heard from him again. I was plenty abrupt about it. I didn’t know what a hideous and vile world-wide scam this has become, and how many unfortunate, and trusting, people have fallen victim to their traps.
I have received numerous “friend requests” each month since the scam from other people. But I am convinced that they are scammers trying to reconnect this “victim.” I can’t say how much this grieves me. I have much going on this time in my life, but nothing as EVIL as these CRIMINALS. I have no friends that can understand, as they’ve never been here. So, this is my attempt to share my experience…and hopefully find RESOLVE.
Thanks for hearing me out…AW
Story 2 – RR
It has been over 2 years since my scam heartbreak. I not only had my heart broken but lost $25,000 of my savings.
It all started when my husband of 25 years dumped me for a 20 year old Asian girl. I was devastated and had to go through all the pain of selling our home, going to solicitors to unravel super and investments, move to another state and find a new home I could afford. My whole world was turned upside down. I was lonely so I decided to go onto a dating site, which I had little experience.
I was contacted by a handsome 65 year old man calling himself Jeff Thomas. He said he was an engineer and lived in Sydney but was willing to relocate as he was about to retire. We chatted through the site then he wanted me to talk through emails and phone. Of course I was keen to meet him face to face.
One day he said he had to return to Malaysia to complete a railway bridge he was building for the Malaysian government. I suggested I could fly up to Sydney to meet him before he left, he agreed and we made arrangements. Well the morning before I was about to fly out he phoned saying he had to leave that morning as there was some problem so we couldn’t get together. After that I had to be content with frequent phone calls, Skype ( typing only as the screen didn’t work for him ? ) and emails .
It was relentless morning, lunch afternoon and late at night, I wondered how he could find this time as he was suppose to be building a railway bridge. He sent me photos of the bridge , I was convinced this was real even though there were many red flags !!!
Well after a couple of months the problems started, firstly he said his wallet had been stolen and all his cards and $70,000 cash to pay his workers. I must admit I did comment how could he fit $70,000 into a wallet, he ignored me. By this time he was talking about us buying a big house, travel the world together etc etc, even marrying when he returned in a couple of months. He sent me a photo of some sort of a contract saying he was going to be paid $15 million for building the bridge.
Then he said because his wallet had been stolen with all his cards he couldn’t get access to his accounts to pay his hotel and even said he had no money for food. He wanted me to send $15,000 ASAP. I explained I was retired and a pensioner and that would take my savings but he started crying and saying he would pay me back plus he was going to buy me a $2 million house that was actually for sale in the town I was living. Well I sent him that money, ( there was a complicated story about that ) .
Then he asked me to sell my cottage that I owned so he could pay his workers all the money he owed them as they had gone on strike. I told him that was impossible, I started to become worried. Then one day I received a phone call from his so called solicitor in Sydney. He said he had been able to get $200,000 together to help Jeff. Then he said he wanted me to travel up to Sydney then I was to travel to Malaysia with $200,000 strapped to my body under my clothes!!!!
I though all this was a joke and said , I am 5’2 inches and would look like the Michelin Man also it is illegal to take that much money out of Australia, I said to him , I will go to jail. He got mad with me then Jeff rang screaming at me saying I didn’t care about him. I finally realised he in fact didn’t care about me and this was a scam.
I talked to my daughter and she talked to the AFP who said this guy was known to them and it was a scam. I reported it to the police, blocked him and cried my heart out for days. I couldn’t believe I was taken by this man and when I spoke to friends they made me feel even worse saying I was stupid and gullible etc etc. so I couldn’t tell them anymore.
It was wonderful being able to talk to someone like Jan and her support group. I am still healing with good and bad days and my financial security is wrecked but I am still here and healthy.
Story 3 – PT
I am 26 years old, this old is so beautiful. But I am feeling terrible and unfair for my life right now. I don’t know why this happened to my life?
In 10 May 2017, a man sent friend request to me on FaceBook social networking. I didn’t care about this person when he said: ” hi, could he talk to me?’ But after that, he said that he had been fallen in love to me. He wants to take care me, he wants bring his heart to me with his fully love.
We chatted on Viber social networking. Because he wants to close relationships with me. I hadn’t doubt of that. I just simple think that no one doesn’t like to waste their time to me when I said that I have nothing such as money, liability, or even I said that I am a poor person to let him know that he couldn’t get any things from me because I have nothing special in my life. But he said that he doesn’t want it. He wants love from me. I believed this words from his mouth.
And now I realised that it is a joke from scammer who I don’t know. I lost 50,000AUD from this joke of scammer. I tried to ask help from my friends to help the scammer because I believed that he told a trust his story of his life. He said he comes from USA. And he lives with his son who is 9 years old. He is an engineer, And he will go to Turkey for his jobs. He couldn’t pay hotel bill because his credit card has problem with Turkey’s Bank. He couldn’t withdraw his money because the bank has not allowed him to withdraw.
In this time, I said that I couldn’t help him because I really don’t have money. I said that I even have not money to buy food for myself. And he said that he would like to send his credit card to me because I can help him to withdraw money from AUSTRALIA and I have to send his money back to TURKEY through MoneyGram. I said that I couldn’t do it because Australia Governments has not allow me to do it, I can become a criminal if I withdraw money from his card. And he said that no, it is ok and don’t have problems.
I have to help him because his son is in Hospital for treatment his injuries. His son has been broken leg when his son played with another children. I thought of his son, and I said that okey I help him. After this, I received an email from a Fake company which is called FairWay Express. This company’s email said that the parcel is on the way to come to Australia. And the parcel will be sent to me by my address details. But something is happened. Another email from this company said that I have to pay the fee for some Certificate such as :
– Import and Export Duty Permit Certificate
– Diplomatic Yellow Tag
– Anti Terrorist Certificate
– United Nations Clearance Bond,
and total fee is 15,464 Euros.
I felt this company is fake and I started to doubt this company but I make a mistake when I told to the scammer that this company is a fake company and he said: no…I have to pay this fee immediately because the police will open the parcel and I will get more issues. It makes me feel seriously issues so I tried to get money from some my friends.
When I sent this amount through Commonwealth Bank, after 2 days late I got more an email from this company, they requested me to sent more money because they need to certify all this documents and I need a lawyer to do this and of course I have to pay the fee for lawyer. It is total 11,646 Euros.
I can’t believe and imagine that I have to pay this amount. For me, this amount is large and I don’t have it. The scammer know that I don’t want to pay this amount and he said that his son need to treatment from doctors and I must to get his parcel soonest. And he promised to pay back this amount after I get his parcel. I felt that his son is like my young brother and I tried to get money from my friends again to get the parcel with no doubt that it is scam or fraud. And it is all plan that the scammer created it.
And now I don’t know how to get the help to recovery money to pay back friends. And who will help me to catch this scammer because I want to justice. I reported to ACORN but I received an Automatic reply from them. I believe that the police don’t want to help me and help another victim like me to investigate.
I am really feel depressed and I am just thinking about the death. I am feeling that this world is not good and the heave of God will better than.
I don’t know what I have to do because no one help me.
Thanks so much.
Story 4 – CC
Love trap, smat crap…
What magic transpires from the controlling of the puppet-meister…
When a smooth talking stranger convinces you to part with everything you have…
What sucked me in?
What pulled me tight?
What trapped my mind, believing that this was right…
An escape, my way out…how delicious it tasted,
How susceptible was my spirit to the conundrum awaiting…
How do I explain the toxic effect of this relationship?
The lure, how tempting, I was easy prey. How lucky for the hunter…this one won`t go away…Stunned like a deer in the headlights bright, my life stood frozen stiff, panicked in total fright. Far beyond my reality, and dangerously so, compelled to meet expectations, I subjugated fully to threats as meted so. How I fell victim to the pressures of his commands, only to please him, my master, they would be set, and off and onward bound.
In my intoxicated state, drunk on the love notes, the promise of escape, I would function like a wind-up doll and operate. At his whim, do what he said unwittingly, without a second’s questioning. The chemical reactions stirring within, had altered my ego, and my id. I was acting way beyond my character, and in my altered state, a stage to perform this drama did begin.
How I reveled in this fantasy…I was engaging in an operation, involved with my lover of sorts, partners in crime, what thrill it gave me this interplay. The drive to meet expectations, of dire circumstance no less, that was the achievement, and how I wanted to prove it…that I was capable, a worthy candidate. I was on a mission, and how fascinating it all seemed, to be part of this quest, ah the intrigue…
The demands were all made via the messenger early, at sunrise, amounts already determined. And like the wind-up doll expressed, on switched the buttons, the functions of the day computed and set. With little sleep from the night before, my mind was entangled in the rapture of the dulcet tones of love, of sweet nothingness only to lighten the blow.
I would awaken next morning to the alarm on my phone reminding me the daylight had come, was I ready to go? Appearing alert, but physically and mentally paying the brunt of this curse, I would set off as usual with my mission firm.
Zombie-like in my mental state, on auto-pilot and charged for the day, the next drop, no room for delay. My head brainwashed into believing this was what was expected of me, my duty of great responsibility. My role understood, my focus clear, my mission outlined and ordered. Strapped with the necessary paraphernalia proving legality of my activities, I would with sure footing head to the station.
These addresses I had never ventured, thanks to Google the ease made it better.
All the while, we would be connected, he, my master, guiding and protecting. Trusting the exchange would take place, he was keen to see the drops completed early within his time frame. I would head to the bank`s ATM as soon as the cash dispensers were open, hurry into the corner to withdraw for my services. The limit was sufficient for that day`s operation…and off I would go to hunt down the next location.
The frequency of visits, the secession of drops, of demands to be met, raised eyebrows among the local folk. Where was she going they started to ask, among their circles, under the watchful eye. Venturing down more obscure alleyways were these drops to be made. Never before had I been actively involved in the finance of banking; of a frequent resort this was not.
Identification all intact, I would walk in confidently and announce my request. Nerves of steel braced my verve, I was doing this for him, my love, my beau. And with aplomb I would state quite plainly, this was for Egypt, for India, for Africa and for China surely. Here were the details, my next-of kin, my brothers and sisters, what a global union.
They did catch on, these officers here. They sensed the irregularity of my misdeeds. The visitations were too frequent, too closely scheduled, why was she sending so much, all at one time? They started to query further, impending my transaction. The mounting frustration was obvious in my manner; flustered, and fuming, the madam is waiting, I am a businesswoman, don`t keep me hanging. The computer data was all aflame, bright red across the page. The systems could detect anomalies existing, you were sending this amount where? What was the purpose of this remittance?
Towards the end of this cycle of duties fulfilled, the aversion to such establishments, of my visitations crept on both parties’ faces…. The loathing to enter, to handle such requests; the awkwardness of this façade painfully avoiding address… What was she doing with all that money to drop? Had she lost her mind, didn`t she realize this was all a hoax?
Closeted from the outside world for far too long, I was not aware of the harsh realities lurking the corridors. News received here was of domestic focus, the rise of the yen, the price of fish at the market. On occasion something of import would be aired, a main event, like the Olympics or World Cup.
A symptom of this country naivety is endemic; of being overly pampered and protected, can be a precarious position to be in. Sadly ill-informed, ignorant to trouble…ah the devilish antics that await beyond the borders. To be aware is to search independently, otherwise The Bastion of Standards and Compliancy would not hear of it.
And there lies the crux of the issue, I had never heard of romance scams, never knew they existed. Though plenty abounds in the local language and beyond, of finding a partner, of capturing a heart-throb. Had never entertained the thought of seeking a partner online, was never curious about such services, who would be interested in the profile of mine!
Awoken to the world so severe,
Was I willing to be intrepid,
And journey through this canyon?
But I did.
For the dangers, they were beyond my perception, well past my imagination.
Scams I understood in the conventional sense, but had never scratched its surface, never sniffed its menacing stench… Seeking a niche in society meant cheating your way, ripping people off, taking advantage of their innocence, are we all victims to this game…?
Fooling the unaware, Coercing their minds, Corrupting their affairs…robbing their dignity, Of not playing fair.
Am I supposed to now believe all are knaves, of fraudulent leanings, craving their next opportunity? I cannot blame anyone but myself…
Are you going to punish me for being so gullible…my mind weakened, I was in trouble. Don’t look down on me and feel pity…I have gone beyond such superficiality. Wading my way through all of this, I sometimes stop and wince, how was I so stupid from the beginning?
A desperate need for love unrequited, I jumped quickly in that hoop to find a trap well set up, oh my god, how was I duped!
Was I to please my hunter…was I satisfying enough as the hunted?
The bounty at the end was oh so enticing, it was my ticket to escape, my exit from this hostile environment I had grown tired of, had learnt to loathe, even hate. Very little was to sustain me here other than a few contacts, dear students, who, on occasion had made me feel, for a brief moment, normal, real, had extended kindness generously enough to enable a firmer footing here.
Self-loathing had crept in, depression had lurked its ugly head, my dignity all shattered like fine-bone china on the concrete slab.
Naturally I was led to think my ‘pop-up’ to be the solution, the answer to my issues…and I responded. How corrupted of spirit had I become.
In this transition now visible before me, the prevailing remained obscure; hidden to those dear in my circle. I was distant and distracted, bound by this other world; of operations, of master threats, who would have known what spheres I was possessed.
Occasionally the phone would ring. In a gravelly voice he would begin:
‘You are the one, you are mine,
What are you talking about?
With God`s blessing, we will unite.’
You may ask what the purpose of all that money was,
To save a sinking ship, secure loot, gold pieces. Both literally… no really!
In hindsight it all sounds a bit hyperbolical, in what day and age are we confronted with such diabolical???
A sense of danger approaching the rough seas, a darkening of skies, a foreboding mirage looming?
Where`s the money, how much can you drop?
Please believe me my dear this has to stop.
One more deposit, one more exchange,
One more arrow, one more cage.
The façade we uphold, maintaining a story,
Keeping faith on hold…why do we do what we do?
I could easily block the app and withdraw from view.
Why don`t you screams my head? I can`t… persists my heart…there is so much unfinished business yet, why do I tread?
I have given him my all, what am I dreaming…a win fall?
I doubt very positively that this will eventuate, with bated breath, I have more than anticipated the outcome of my fate.
Just one more drop, one more deal. How do you think I feel?
I am not your money-bags dear, I don`t even earn that much. Do you now want me to turn tricks for you, my love, so as to keep this end of the deal? An affront…
I struggle to find solutions yet cannot resist the constant interruption that exists.
Hold me strong and don`t let go….
Dear God intervene… I am not of substance, and my nerves are wearing thin….
I indulge him, to keep the channels alight, but at what cost to this blight?
Am I letting go or standing still, is there any promise to fulfill? I doubt it.
My circumstances have proven thus far, there is nothing to gain from this affair.
I have not had a pleasant ride, it has not taken me afar, no delight transpired.
Stunted I look for answers and to my dismay, there is nothing but a vacant stare, dull and lifeless, but a pallor veneer reflected in vain.
How do I overcome this dilemma?
Give up immediately and flee forever? What options are presented, what to hold, life is not perfect, accept and move on?
Frustratingly, and in vain, I seek an angle, sometimes bemusing my innermost emotions…Temporarily relieving my thoughts racing in my mind, I then return to the same vicious cycle, weathered over time. Must I surrender to these impasses, or do I valiantly proceed without disaster? The prospects foreboding, the will disturbed, my mind ever confused…pray be still.
There a sumo yukata-clad, balancing precariously on his bicycle, he rides past by me oblivious to the stares. In what world am I surrounded, confusion only blares.
A curiosity for certain, inquisitive glances only remind me of the differences existing. I sit in wonder, where will this lead me, am I going to carry such a burden for too much longer? Will he concede and reprieve on the offer?
Story 5 – LC
It was two years ago I was in my late 30s with good paying job and a vast network of social life, I just joined the online dating platform for the first time. It was a paid service in US$ worth of US$35 per month because I was serious about looking for a new relationship. (That means the scammer(s) also paid the same to stay on that platform)
Soon after I got a message from a male profile with no photos. Indeed it was the first message. His profile didn’t look overly committing to relationship (Otherwise I would have put off) and I had absolutely zero knowledge about Romance Scam. He soon suggested to chat on WhatsApp (Now I know this is an early sign of a scam) and I agreed. He sent me ‘Hi’ with photos of extremely good looking guy almost too-good-to-be-true (Now I know this guy in the photo is a journalist with an open Instagram account) and I had to admit that I was thrilled by it.
I felt bit weird about the fact he overly talks about the business he runs as soon as we started chatting (Now I know most scammers claim they’re self-employed) felt weird about the fact he types words very quickly (Now I know he was copying and pasting the template replies), felt he was too self-centred by talking about himself without asking much about me (Now I know these are the red flags). But I had no idea about Romance Scam and this is my first experience for online dating so I put my slight doubts aside and went on. (Now I know, you must ALWAYS trust your gut feeling about someone)
For a week we chatted everyday but only chit chat and nothing romantic, then a week later he said he is going to Europe for a business trip as his client there was with a trouble (There you go!). I was also going to be away to other country for holidays in two weeks. (So he had only two weeks to scam me and now I know that’s why he pulled up the plan to lay out the scam at this early stage before setting up a ‘’bond’ creation in between me)
From Europe he sent me a video. It was a video of ‘him’ finishing his morning run routine in the park. I was ecstatic, I don’t know how many times I watched that video. I also found he had a North American accent. (Which goes along with his background he provided) He sent me more photos and messages then bang, sent me this long email and for the first time with passion about his idea of relationship. Basically I was sold for that and wrote him back honestly with most open attitude.(As you can imagine the scam took place right after this)
But at this point I wasn’t in love with him. I can’t be in love with someone I have never met. I guess all I had was just a hope someday I will meet him soon.
Next morning he texted me when I was on the bus saying “Did you read my email? It’s urgent”.
It was a long email about him in need of US$5,000 to pay the for his business. Long story short, I made a quick decision and wired him money. Now I come to think if he was in need of other money such as for hospitalization, I wouldn’t have done it. I think I was scammed because I am a business woman and I think I wanted to appear I understand his business needs. My ego played a role in here. (He used the now-too-obvious tactic of “not having anyone else to depend on but you”. Scammers create the situation where you are the only person in his world to talk to, which at the time I felt weird but again, I didn’t know about this tactic so I went on)
Just when I thought the ‘emergency’ was averted, next day he laid out another emergency situation continuing from the last one with the request of money for US$7,500. I could not believe it and I even told him that my friend was scammed and I am doubting if he was the one. My friend was scammed in the different way it was a marriage scam not online. At the time I thought he could be a scammer but I also thought I would confront him if he comes back from Europe. I told him I can’t send money to someone I have never spoken. I asked him to call me and he agreed.
We set a phone call, him in Europe and me in Asia. It was 3am and first I was alarmed because the line was jammed with noise and that his voice tone was completely different from the video and most notably, he sounded like an Indian not North American. But I was happy to be able to finally hear his voice and I said “Hey you sound different!” and he replied something stupid like he sounds different because he is excited to talk to me.
BIG RED FLAG.
His English was real bad, this confused me because his English was bit wobbly on texts but perfect on Emails. (Now I know the emails are scripted by an native English speaker) He begged for money and I was annoyed by his arrogance and forceful attitude. (Now I know this is typical African scammer attitude) I was confused by inconsistency in his accent but I couldn’t hear him clearly by noise (Now I know they scrambled the line) and it was late at 3am and I was too tired from anxiety by his situation which didn’t make any sense to me. I was crying. So in the end with all these red flags and alarm beeping in my head I gave in and decided to send him money next morning.
Next morning I went to MoneyGram again to wire him US$7,500 to London as I did for the 1st remittance. I was extremely upset by the fact it is all about him since the beginning and I exhausted by him. I didn’t know what or why I was doing this. If you ask me now all I can say is I was under a weird spell. I think this is what it means by you weren’t in control literally. And it was the first experience ever to feel that way for me.
Then I went on my holiday, he was still stuck with his unrealistic situation in Europe and not being able to come back to Asia, but he didn’t ask me the 3rd request while I was on holidays. (Now I know because he knew I can’t send them money particularly after I lied that I emptied my bank a/c which I gave a second thought whether to lie him to protect my savings and honestly, all I was thinking at the time was I didn’t want to appear that I have no money to him and finding excuses that not having much saving.)
On my holiday, we were chatting on WhatsApp. His situation grew gloomier day by day and he sounded depressed day by day. None of this made sense and I started thinking he is bit of an idiot. Red flags all the way but I pushed it aside by thinking maybe he sounds so by stressful situation and he would be normal after this. And if he was a scammer then I would confront him when we finally meet. Why did I think a scammer would meet me? I really don’t know but all I can say is I really just have never heard of this type of scam at all. All I knew was my friend’s case in where she married guy who later turned out a scammer. I guess that made me think at least I would see him later no matter how situation gets worse and that I would not get scammed like my friend did.
When I came back from my holiday, on Day 1 he sent me the 3rd request this time asking me to fly to China to sign on US$1.7M contract with his client as they decided to pay him out and that he can’t fly because now he is sick.
THAT’S when I realised this is a scam as I am in the finance job I know what money laundering is. I gasped for the air for realising the extent of stupidity of myself. It was almost unreal to think I lost US$12,500 like that. But I didn’t make action because I knew this is a money laundering attempt and that I thought I should work with police to bait him out.
Went to the police station they told me to send the case in by email so I did. I waited for police to contact me. But it took too long, I couldn’t hold him for more than 2 weeks pretending I now know I am being scammed by a global criminal syndicate. (I did extensive study online about it) So I blocked him and that was the end of the contact. (Back then I was still thinking authorities can catch the scammers)
A month later police called me in for filing my case officially. They even went to the address he gave me to find no one under his profile lives there. Checked his local phone number to find out it is on the SIM card anyone can purchase at 7/11 and top up. And that his email IP corresponds to Indonesia and Nigeria.
I posted all his information online and few months later a woman from where I live contacted me telling me she too was approached by the guy with same phone number of different name and she told me she called the number and few different Chinese speaking guys picked up the phone and each of them told her the person she is asking for (a white guy) is not there. She thanked me for posting about my scam details so that she didn’t have to be a victim. Few other women contacted me the same.
I can tell from my experiences that you are extremely vulnerable for things you have never heard or encountered in your life. I knew about conventional scams like it happened to my friend (a marriage scam) but NEVER have I imagined of THIS, not perpetrated by a scam-man but by a global criminal syndicate which possibly has connections with other bigger crimes or worse terrorism and their operation is impossible for current authority to bring down.
Often the media portraits the Romance Scam victims are retired lonely women. I, in my late 30s with wide network of friends and social life, had never thought I would be the one. Scammers rarely target young people just because young people usually have no money not because old people are prone to the scams. I hate how media gets this wrong. (Then when they don’t?) Truth is not the victim-centric as they want to scandalously portrait of us, the victims, but it is all about MONEY for the scammers and nothing else. Scammers target men, women, gays, young and old regardless of their profession or educational level as long as the one has MONEY.
If you think you are being scammed but you are not sure, then what I can tell you is NO ONE asks money unless they’re scammers. And all your gut feeling about ‘there is something wrong with him/her’ IS REAL and you shouldn’t doubt if you are being silly because you are NOT.
Story 6 – RMcC
I was scammed 2 years ago through a dating site. I was feeling a bit lonely at the time.
His name was Michael Stanton so he told me. I fell in love with this man and believed everything he told me even though my family and friends all told me that it was a scam. He received all my savings amounting to $16000.00. I worked so hard for that money and didn’t hesitate in sending money.
I still have a house and a car and my pension. When l looked back later I couldn’t believe what I had done as I was very good with money and would never considered doing what I had done.
My family wouldn’t talk to me and blamed me and I felt more lonely than I did before.
It finished in January and I had to change my bank account, my credit card my phone numbers, one of my sons rang him in Turkey and told him that I had committed suicide and thought that would be the end. It stopped for about 2 months and one night the phone rang about 4am and they caught me out how I don’t know.
I ruined my life really went to solicitor banks, police, everywhere but no help here in Australia.
My family are now very supportive to me and have helped me but I will never forgive myself as that was their inheritance.
Something strange happened a few months ago and got a man through Facebook requesting to be my friend with a photo. I was really surprised as he looked like the same person. I never reply to these but I answered this and said that he looked liked a man that scammed me. When I explained to him that they used other people’s photos never there own and he asked me if I could send him a copy of this photo I had. I sent him the photo and he sent a larger one of him and with the words he said that it was a good job he had shaved off his moe and said it was a terrible thing for anyone to do.
Story 7 – FL
In November I was approached by a man who was a random match on Words with Friends. I won’t give his screen name, as I’m sure he has many. The initial exchanges were polite, sweet and charming, and I was slowly drawn in to keep chatting with him. We shared details about our lives with each other and found we had a lot in common. I began to look forward to his messages more than I should have.
He told me he was a marine engineer doing contract work on an offshore rig in Norway. He said he had lost his wife to cancer 7 years ago and had a 15 year old daughter in the states with a nanny. He had been walking around with a hole in his heart, never expecting to find love again. His contract would be up soon and he planned to retire so he could travel. Asked me if I would be his traveling companion and said that he wanted to treat me like a queen.
We began to chat multiple times a day on Google Hangouts, which I downloaded at his request. There were daily phone calls as well, with him professing his love and his gratitude for coming into his life. I was “the answer to his prayers “. By then, he had started calling me “my love”, “honey”, “sweetheart “, etc. All of this lasted over 2 months and my heart had been melting all the while, even against my better judgement. He knew all the right things to say and I felt wanted, needed and loved.Was this finally my soulmate? If I backed off from this chance at true love, would I always regret it?
We made plans to meet once he got back to the States next month. I did wonder a bit why he wouldn’t want to see his daughter first, after being away from her for 6 months. But I told myself that he was as besotted as I had become, and he couldn’t wait for us to finally meet. And he said that his daughter was excited at the prospect of having a “new mom” at last. This should have raised red flags, as I hadn’t even met him in person yet, but he kept assuring me we were meant to be together and he felt he had known me in a previous life. We were just continuing the love affair we had started then. The romance and the mystery clouded my more rational thoughts and I allowed myself to be swept away by his charming and loving words.
Well it finally happened…a few days ago, he asked me if I would arrange to receive a package from London that was his late father’s inheritance. I didn’t stay around for the details, but told him what a f***** he was to play with my emotions. He tried a few more times to pull me back in, telling me I was breaking his heart and why was I doing this, my love? Have you forgotten so soon all the sweet moments we shared?
Yes, I was deeply hurt, but so glad my instincts finally kicked in and I didn’t let him play this out any longer.
I am so grateful for this forum, and my heart goes out to all of you who have been played, like me, by these smooth and charming love scammers. My new motto: If it feels too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Be strong, beautiful women! We all deserve more
Story 8 – AB
The man I thought I was talking to said his name was Andre, he found me on Instagram. When we first started talking, I tried to get rid of him quickly, it’s what I usually do when men try to talk to me online. I tell them I’m in a relationship and nothing can come of it but if they want to chat as friends from time to time then that’s okay, and it usually does the trick, and I don’t have to deal with them anymore.
But not Andre, he kept pursuing me. And eventually, I weakened. He told me how beautiful I was, and that he wanted to meet me someday. Basically everything I’ve never heard any man in my life tell me. At the time my man and I were going through a rough patch, we didn’t know if we were going to stay together, so yeah I was vulnerable. We would chat everyday, I even set my notifications sound from the app we used to a certain ringtone so I knew when it was him.
Everything was going fine our chats were innocent and romantic and yes I fell for him. But from time to time I did notice inconsistencies In the things he was saying or he’d say he told me something when I knew he didn’t. But I just let it slide, because I really wanted to believe that this big beautiful man wanted me.
Andre told me he was a soldier, he had relocated from Germany to Texas. He said he was on a peace keeping mission In Kabul Afghanistan. He would tell me he was in the command room or the communications room all alone, and so he could talk to me. Then he told me their general was coming and they were having a rewards ceremony for which he got a substantial reward. And I congratulated him. I was pleased that him and his kids would be well taken care of because of it.
Everything was going well and as I said earlier our relationship was very romantic until one day out of the blue it turned sexual, he started to ask me to send pics of myself and promised to keep them for his own private use. At first I sent ones of myself in my PJs, done up in high heels make up and mini dresses or lingerie but I made sure I was covered up. But he wanted nude ones, he sent me a pic of his…. At least I thought it was his cause the dude was wearing army pants and boots 😁 I told him I didn’t feel comfortable about full nude but I agreed to do semi nudes(what a fool).
When I was ready. As you can guess I sent them my face and my breasts🙄 after that things ressumed as normal and he would even call me and I would call him, I remember now thinking the first time I heard his voice that he sounded black but I brushed it off, he even tried to video call me but said his system wasn’t working that’s why I couldn’t see him.
I figured it because he was In the military and it was for security reasons. Suddenly one-day he called me sobbing and crying telling me that his Nanny Judith called to tell him that his son Tristan had been rushed to hospital, I spent all day from calls to chats consoling him until he found out what was wrong with Tristan. The diagnosis was cancer. That’s when it all went down hill.
He was desperately trying to find a way to get money to pay his son’s medical bill but what he said he wanted to do made no sense to me, at first he said that his Nanny said she only had $1000 left of the money he gave her when he left for deployment and needed another $1000 and could I help him out, he said he would pay me back as soon as he got home which is in may, I said I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have that kind of money, so he asked me for $200 for iTunes cards so he could access his bank account and he would transfer 15k into my bank account and then I was to take the money for his son’s bill out and he would tell me what to do with the rest (even though I said that i would help him out, it didn’t feel right so I delayed it as much as I could so I would be able to research what he told me)he said a colleague told him that’s what he did, i still didn’t buy it and I continued to research and not give him anything.
I wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing and as I discovered iTunes was for shopping online and you couldn’t access your bank account at all through it, so I started to research other ways he could get help even suggesting that what he actually needed was a top up card from his phone company, and as he didn’t want the military to know what he was doing, with a top up they wouldn’t need to know, cause everyone knows top ups give you data so you don’t need to connect to a server duh!!! I told him I had emailed an actual doctor from the USA to see what is supposed to happen In a case such as his, as he is a single father.
I had a feeling that there had to be a way he could go home early in a case such as this, I even looked up and downloaded military criteria on early leave reasons and how you could get it. And when I tried to tell him about all of this it just fell on deaf ears. He was adamant that the iTunes card was what he needed but I kept saying no, I even started to wonder if the Nanny was preying on his desperation to be with his son, that’s when I asked him if he told her about the reward he got before or after she said his son was sick.
But he just said she wouldn’t lie to him, but I tried to hint that his son only got sick after he got that reward, but he wouldn’t listen and continued to harass me. I even said I would write to the military on his behalf as long as he gave me all the information I needed such as his doctor’s details, a copy of the hospital bill and an email confirming everything from the doctor and his Nanny. I was to tell them I was his fiance. But I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling in my gut and he seemed to be leaving his Nanny out of the equation a lot, after all she’s the one in America with his son, wouldn’t it make sense to give her the money to pay the doctor. That’s when I started to suspect something wasn’t right so I put together all the info I found out and my reasons he should take a look at it all and why I felt I couldn’t buy the cards for him and waited for his reply.
When he did reply I was not expecting the reaction I got. At first he was disappointed and said I accused him from the start about lying to me, but I said I was just trying to protect myself and I also noticed that he would never go out of his way to prove he was who he said he was, his phone calls were supposed to be proof enough, well no it was not enough, when it was my birthday, and I asked him for a photo of him as a present to me that day he said he couldn’t do that because he had no camera on His phone yet he sent me of one of his d…earlier that week. Basically I kept catching him out even when I wasn’t trying to. He once told me the name of the hospital his son was in, but after looking it up I had to tell him that there was no such centre or hospital under that name in Texas, it was in fact the title for the different types of medical professions, he managed to trick me into letting him add me on Facebook, he then showed me screenshots of my Facebook friends to check that he had the right person, thinking he was wanting to be my friend Facebook I didn’t think anything of it. But then he dropped a Bomb and I will never forget the feeling and he violation I felt when I heard the words”if you don’t pay the money I want I’m going to post the semi nude pics of you” my heart sank and I began to sob, it was then that I made the embarrassing decision to message all and I mean all of my fbk friends to tell them what to expect, I simply asked them to delete the pics and not make a big deal of it for my sake.
I did tell them why they might receive these pics and to my amazement and surprise they all supported me and gave me love. This went on all that night and I’m still getting supportive messages now. No one would let me feel ashamed people even told me that it happened to them even my own sister. So I didn’t feel so alone, and yes I had to tell my man and I told him everything, he forgave me wrapped his arms around me, Went outside and smashed over the recycling bin came back inside and asked if he could see the pictures but i found the archives album and deleted the pics permanently from the app and the page we used for our chats.
I realized pretty quickly that he didn’t save copies of the photos I sent him when I saw that his screenshots were from our chats on the app. But even if he did post them it didn’t matter anymore because everyone that mattered knew so he had no power over me. Yes he tried to add a link to the archives album but it as too late I had beat him to it and I told him and yet he continued the blackmail, but I told him I forgave him and I do, I wished him the best because even wankers deserve good things to happen to them which angered him.
After all aren’t soldiers supposed to be intelligent to be in the military, that in itself should have been my biggest clue, because he wasn’t.
The blackmail suddenly stopped when I told him if I had the money and I could be bothered I would hunt him down. I guess I should be grateful my would be scammer was a dumb one and not as clued up as I was about the internet, I’m happy that I’m the one who got away.
Story 9 – Sophie
Here is my story; sorry but English is not my language and I’m a bit tired, depressed… but I will do my best.
I really believe that we need to share our stories of SCAMMERS in order to warn other people.
My son and his sweetheart both have accounts and play the market, buying stock and selling, you know.
I was never on a web based dating site, never in my life. It’s not for me. And with all the experiences of my single female friends, it’s mostly a disaster, people lie about their profession, their weight, and so on.
The only social network I’m on is Linked in, for work.
But I did pay 2 times, couple of years ago, for membership in a “real” dating site, with a manager (that you meet) and real pictures of men. I have met a few men.
In July (2017) one day, my daughter in law told me that she just bought some stock from “tinder”. And was asking me to try this app. You know, you’re single, it can’t hurt, you never know Sophie!
First I said “No way Love” but she did insist and promised me to manage my account (on my phone).
Ok then I said.
It started there. With her help, I did filter and met in person, 5-6 men.
After 2 weeks approx, this man came along. He was different, very romantic. But was in Manitoba (lie) as an engineer to bid on a contract here, where I live. Was supposed to then go finish up a contract in Cyprus but, in between, he will stop here to meet me.
Last minute… he became sick, food poisoning.
Then he emailed me, called me, and texted me from “Cyprus”. The area code were ok, etc.
As I planned earlier in that year, I had to go to France in August(2017) to visit my best friend for her birthday. Big surprise party organized by her lovely husband.
Everyday he was texting or emailing to me.
Once he asked for the phone number where I was in France. My friends agreed.
He called me. The area code looked ok, from the “fix” phone he had in his apartment in Cyprus.
Then he asked for the address… my friends said oh, why not?
Couple of days later I received this beautiful bouquet of flowers, with a very nice vase.
I was wow!
Then, he started to call me boo, love, queen, all the bs. He never woke me up in the night, I could sleep but he was there, texting or calling, multiple times every day. I was in heaven. Plans to get together, he was from California but wife died in his arms in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, 3 years ago, teenager son living in Scotland with Granny.
She was sending me emails, very nice and sensitive emails. Told me to “shhh” but she discovered that her son was in love with me and wanted to start the second and last chapter of his life with me, in Canada. Poor son was working so hard since wife died. Never had another girlfriend, since he lost his soul-mate.
When I called in Scotland, like 3 times, it was the answering machine… So my scammer told me that her mother was in dialysis 4 times a week and needed a kidney.
She was old and under much stress by the electronics… she could not talk on the phone.
But, she was always responding to my emails, in TALL police of characters.
He owned a business, with a site, and his pictures and the employees.
One day he called me crying (he was crying a lot) desperate: he could not get out of Cyprus because he had to pay taxes on is million-ish dollar contract. And the government was linked to the airport, so there was no way to get out.
He also had to pay his lawyer (with a web site), etc.
Since he is not done paying taxes to Cyprus, he could not be paid by his client.
He had no friends, Mum was poor and sick, and could not ask his employees. It was just a loan.
I began to send him money through MoneyGram, and then I wired money. I have a lot of details I could tell about the names of those “partners in crime” he has in Ontario(Canada), Georgia(USA) and Cyprus.
I was sorry he could not skype… his camera was broken.
As of now, I’m closed to be bankrupt, I hate myself and I am desperate. Plus, I am under a depression (with pills).
My son knows that I was in love with this man but does not know about all the money I did “loan”. No one knows about the money aspect. Well, only the Security dept of my bank, who blocked me once.
At this time, I was out of the nightmare of breast cancer (surgery and so on), and seeing my best friend in France was such a boost for me, I was high.
I showed all the emails to my French friend; she said “this guy looks weird Darling: too much poetry, too much in love after a short period of time, be careful”.
But I really believed that it was possible that I meet a man my age, educated, very kind and capable of commitment in love. After all, maybe it’s my turn to be happy!
I am educated, but was vulnerable, lonely, naive and idiot…
Hi! My mom was the victim of 2 successive romance scams and lost a total of $60k between the 2 scams.
She met the first scammer on OurTime.com and gave him $30k in dribs and drabs to help him with his “business failings”. The set up is that the first scammer, when he is through with the “romance” that cost her so much money, treats her badly. Then he sells her name and contact info on the dark web. The second scammer – who is a much more skilled brainwasher – comes in to “make her feel better” after the first scam and promises a life together where only he can fix her emotional pain. Mom lost another $30k on that scam, this time in amazon gift cards in $500 increments.
My mom supposedly met a real person in Charlotte, NC in November, for the 2nd scam, so we can only assume that the romance scam people are hiring actors because their business is so lucrative. After that, she Skyped and used an untraceable google phone number, plus texts, to contact the man who is really a criminal organization. It seems from the texts like the organization allows less skilled people, or even a bot, to generate romantic phrases that keep her dopamine levels up. Also they contact her at all hours so as to deprive her of sleep.
My brother and I had to go to South Carolina where she lived in a remote location and rescue her. She was making a burka on her sewing machine – Mom is Catholic – and the scammer was promising a ticket to Iran. Whether she was being set up for a kidnapping because she was out of money, or if she suggested the trip and he was just playing along but the plane ticket would never really arrive, we will never know. But it is possible she was making her own funeral garment.
My brother and I took guardianship and took her back to a retirement home near me. She is bereft and cries constantly. The love of family has finally made her see that the whole thing was a scam, but she is in the first stages of dementia and goes in and out of lucidity about that fact. Sometimes Mom holds out hope that the scammer is real, and sometimes she realizes that the “dreams of the future” and other intimate information they shared was a lie.
She is completely bereft and I am trying to get her to grief counseling, though there are few groups for this odd type of grief. However, she almost never thinks about the fact that she lost all her meager savings – she thinks of the “love” she lost constantly.
We had to take away her smart phone because even after Mom said she only had $15 and that we had total control over her life, the scammers wouldn’t stop contacting her. Additionally, my brother and I had weird things happening on our computers, so we had to install VPNs, change all passwords and get the best malware protection out there.
This incident continues to put a tremendous strain on me and my family. The dating services are at fault for blithely allowing known stolen identities – the photos and identity used by the second scammer were reported stolen by the real person to the FBI – and not doing anything to stop it. The victims of this psychological rape and the families are left to pick up the pieces for years aftewards.
I personally went to my local FBI field office and talked to an agent, but he said the FBI doesn’t consider this type of swindle a crime, which floored me. How can I explain what happened as anything other than a crime?
I joined a website call match.com.au. I did my profile and within a day I had a reply from a woman calling herself Elizabeth Collins.
At first, we were just talking about anything. As time went along we got closer to each other. She made me feel good and happy so I just went with it. As the months went by I fell in love with her. She told me she was in Malaysia buying gold jewellery and the total value of the goods was AU$2.5 million. A while after she told me about her goods she said she needed some money to get the goods to Australia. It was $4,000. I thought that was not much I so I sent her the money. She said she would be on her way home.
In the next couple of days, she did not arrive home. She told me she needed some more money. I think it was another $2,000 for legal costs, so I sent them. Then she needed more, this time another $4,000 and I sent it by money gram. All transactions were done by money gram up to that time.
After I sent the last lot of money I get a message saying she was in a car accident while on the way to the airport and I said: “Bullshit, I hope she dies.”
Then someone sent me an email to say he was the doctor that treated her at the accident and that she was in a bad way. I said “I don’t care. I hope she dies.”
A couple of days later the so-called doctor rang me again and told me she had woken up. As she made a slow recovery she rang me a few times on the phone and spoke with me and convinced me everything was true.
A few weeks later she told me that she was trying to board a plane with the goods and they were taken by customs and she had to show the court that she owned the goods and that would cost $40,000. I sent that to her, like a real fool.
Then she told me she had given the goods to a shipping and security company as some people were after her goods. I fell for it. She needed another $20,000 as a deposit for the shipping and security company and I transferred it to a bank account she gave me. I still have all the banking details she has ever given me. Overall this time I paid $150,000 to her.
I made one more payment to the shipping and security company for $50,000. She told me once that was paid she would home and I believed her. She requested more as the shipping and security company need another $20,000 to ship the goods to Australia. I said I am not sending any more money. I will bring the money over to Malaysia and she agreed to meet me In Malaysia once I arrived.
She was not there when I arrived. I got a message telling me she would meet me at Melbourne airport when I got back.
She had booked a room for me and wanted me to meet the people from the shipping and security company. About 6:00 PM that evening I got a phone call from the so-called shipping and security company that someone was coming over to meet me. A woman came and met me she wanted me to give her the $20,000 I had brought with me. I said “No. I want to see the goods.” The lady made a phone call and said she was talking to her boss. After the call she said someone will pick me up at 9:00 am in the morning. No one came so I rang the shipping and security company and asked what going on. They told me they are busy and someone will pick me up at 1:00 PM in the afternoon.
I was picked up and taken to the industrial part of Malaysia, an area that had shipping containers around the place. We kept driving and stopped in front of a big high rise building. The lady who had met me at the hotel was waiting for me and took me up in the lift to where the shipping and security company office was. Now I think about it, when I was in the lift, where the floor numbers were there was a curtain around them and you could only see some of the numbers for the lift. I remember she moved the curtain to the side a push the button to the company floor.
Once on the floor, I was taken to a room a had coffee and cake. On the floor was a box which had in the gold, jewellery and US money in it. They showed me everything that was in the box and I said: “How do I know it is all real?” They give me US$200 and said I can go to any cash exchange centre and change it. I did this by myself and the money was real so I thought everything was good. I handed over the AU$20,000 and gave them my address for the goods to be shipped to. I was given a receipt for the $20k I paid and when everything was done, I was taken back down in the lift and the curtain was again moved to the side to press the floor button. Back down in the street the driver was waiting for me and took me back to the airport.
When I got back to Melbourne Airport the real fun started. I had the drugs dogs put on me but nothing was found so they took my bag and went through it. They found the paperwork I was given in Malaysia. They took my phone and went through it looking at all my emails in this matter and everyone was just looking at me. This really upset me and I just lost it. I asked them who wants to be the first one to come outside and I punch your fucken head in. I wanted to take them all on but one of the Border Security guards took me aside and had a talk with me. He took me out so I could have a smoke.
He talked with me for a while and said he knows I have been scammed over so well. I asked him to take me to Southern Cross Station so I could jump under a train but he calmed me down. He phoned my oldest daughter and told her what was going on. I stayed in a backpackers’ hostel for a couple of days and then came home to face the music. My family wanted nothing to do with me and I just felt like why am I here? After a few weeks, things started to get a bit better.
Once I got back to Melbourne there was no sign of Elizabeth Collins. I then got an email from the shipping and security company saying customs had stopped the goods saying we need to pay another $130,000. I said “Bullshit. We had been to court over customs before and been given the go-ahead to take the goods out of the country.” She asked me about my superannuation and I said: “I have enough in my superannuation to cover it but it will take 45 to 60 days to find out if I can get it.”
In the last couple of weeks, I have had phone calls from Malaysia saying I don’t need to pay the full $130,000, I only need to pay $40,000 and pay $50,000 but I said to him “$40k+$50k=$90k. What happened to the other $40k?” I did not get a reply. Last week I was told I only have to pay $20k up front now, so I asked him “Why is everyone so kind to me?”
Back to so-called Elizabeth Collins: She told me she could not meet me in Melbourne because she had been detained in Singapore as she has a company there and her manager ran away with the money for the company. Now she is being held responsible for it and is under house arrest in Singapore. What a load of shit. When we first started talking she told me she wanted to start up her own fashion label and that was why she bought the gold, jewellery and other goods to set herself up. She thinks I am going to send her the $40k she needs to get the goods home.
No way. She is getting no more out of me. If I ever get hold of her or any of them I believe I can set them up if I said I will bring the money over and pay it at the shipping and security company. If I go over my family have said they will have nothing to do with me so I better not.
I am attracting a copy of the documents the shipping and security company sent me for the $130,000. I know is fake because I have had it checked out by the Malaysian embassy. They told me on such document exists. I also had her passport checked out and it is fake. I have kept everything she has ever sent me. The photo of her and the little is the one that really got to me and to be honest it still does.
[Horst also sent photos of ‘Elizabeth Collins’. I have not included them here because they are stolen photos. JM]
This is my story of a stupid old man.