We all want to be loved. We want to hear the perfect words and get swept off our feet. The problem is that there are some really clever con artists who prey on women’s need for the fairy tale. But if a guy seems too good to be true, he may not be for real. He may be a con artist, a romance scam artist with an internet connection!
Lesley was a financial analyst with a Masters degree, a thriving career, and no time to date. Her girlfriend convinced her to join a dating site, and after months of excuses, Lesley finally put up her profile. Weeding through the crowd of responses, one man stood out. His name was Peter. Peter was persistent and patient. He wrote her poetry. In his photo he looked like a model, and he had a great job. Or so Lesley thought. Whenever it seemed like they would actually meet, he would have a sudden business trip.
But Lesley had gotten so used to his e-mails that it was the high point of her night , coming home to see if Peter had sent her a message. She shared details of her life. It seemed that Peter “got” her on some deep level. He seemed to have a sixth sense about what she was feeling. She had even told her girlfriend “Peter is too good to be true.”
After four months of exchange of personal stories, intimate details and expressions of love, Lesley got a call from Peter. He was travelling and had his wallet stolen. He had a hotel bill and asked her to wire him two thousand dollars to pay it and get a flight home. He promised to return the money the next day.
Peter swore he was so embarrassed to ask her, he couldn’t tell his boss he had been ripped off, and he promised to make it up with an all expense paid first weekend together in Las Vegas at the end of the month.
In spite of her doubts, Lesley wired the money.
That was the last time she ever heard from Peter.
Lesley felt every emotion in the book. She felt fury at losing her hard-earned money. Money that she had been saving for two years, for her own vacation. She felt the terrible loss of what she had nearly become convinced was “finally the perfect man.” She felt a terrible shame for her actions. She couldn’t share this story with anyone, not even her best friend who had started to warn her about Peter. She couldn’t believe that an intelligent and careful woman like herself could become a victim this way.
It affected her performance at work, and she got a poor evaluation for the first time in her career. It took her six months to unwind from the depression. Finally she discovered a website dedicated to romance scams, and realized she was not alone.
Thousands of intelligent women had similar stories of romance scams. The details were different, but the end results were the same. They had been wooed online, sometimes for months of careful seduction, only to fall for some crisis that required an immediate cash solution.
There are signs that the person on the other end of the internet dating site may not be who they say they are. If you have never met this person – in person – never send any money! Never agree to cash a check or do any financial transaction that puts you at risk, even for 24 hours!
If you can’t reach this person by phone, that is another warning sign. If they seem to have numerous excuses for not moving the relationship to a more real, and face-to-face level, you need to be very suspect. In fact, if anything doesn’t feel right or feels “too good to be true,” trust your instincts! Some people use a photo that isn’t even them. So if they are unable to produce additional photos in real life situations, this is a warning sign. This may be a sign of a scam.
If the person approached you online in the first place, pursued you patiently and diligently, feels too good to be true, maybe you are dealing with someone who isn’t what they appear to be. Don’t be a victim of romance scams, the latest method of fraud.
If you have already experienced being on the receiving end of a romance scam, you need to heal from this multi-pronged wound. Try to forgive yourself. After all, you had good intentions. You only wanted to love and be loved in return. You are a victim, and it is not your fault! You were dealing with someone who is an expert in manipulation. Reach out and tell your story to someone you trust. Shameful silence is more painful than admitting the trust. You are not the first or the last victim of a romance scam, and you are not a bad or stupid person. You were just out-smarted!
Hopefully you are not at risk of “romance scams.” But do everything you can to protect yourself, and talk to a friend about how your online relationship is developing. And never, never send money to someone you don’t know. Don’t be a victim of romance scam!
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