A friend of mine is being romanced BIG time by a man she has never met.
They’re engaged already. She’s moving to his country, a place where women have very few options
She’s so happy, but something just felt a little off to me…
So I did some “research.” (Research used to mean going to the library. Now it means a Google search!)
I thought I knew about romantic scammers. I thought they’d be super-easy to spot.
But I must admit, I was shocked to see just how many women—smart, mature, sensible women—are being conned out of their hard-earned dollars…
Thinking they’ve met “The One.”
Romance scams are the largest category of consumer fraud. Scammers stole $143 million in 2018. The average victim loses $2,600.
A huge number of women (and men!) continue to be bilked by these criminals. Last year, 21,000 romance scams were reported to the FTC, but you can imagine how many victims don’t want to admit they got conned.
Their stories are remarkably similar. It goes like this…
The Story of a Scam
First of all, you’re contacted out of the blue by a stranger.
If you’re on a dating site, you don’t think twice. This guy may even have been vetted by the dating service. His Facebook and LinkedIn profiles all check out.
Next, he wants to move off the dating site to talk somewhere else. Email, text, DM … probably not phone calls or video chat. There’s always some “good” reason why you can’t hear his voice or see him.
But you don’t mind, because—unlike other guys—this guy ALWAYS replies to you when you message him. He doesn’t disappear on you. He makes time for you. He shows you that you’re a priority in his life. You know you’ve just met, but something about your connection feels magical. Each message from him puts a smile on your face.
Soon he confesses something deeply personal…
I’ve tried to fight it. I know this is crazy, but I’m falling in love with you.”
He wants to spend his life with you. He wants to be the man you can rely on, who makes you happy, who proves to you that love doesn’t have to hurt.
He may even say he’s sure you’ve known each other in a past life!
Oh, but that’s not all. Far from it. Now for the stuff that REALLY reels people in…
He’s working on a contract overseas. Something exciting. Something a smart person would do. What an interesting life he’s had, traveling all over the world!
In spite of his success, personal tragedy has haunted him. His wife died of cancer four years ago … he’s raising his son alone …
Combined with his handsome photos and what a gentleman he is, oh my goodness!
And we’re not done yet. You know what?
He’s talked to you for 3 whole months and never asked you for a penny. (And you tell your friends so, because they’re concerned.)
You look forward to his morning messages. He’s in touch so often, you wonder how he has time to do his work.
He owns a ranch in Colorado. He’s finishing his contract overseas next month, and then the two of you are going to start your life together.
He calls you “Princess”—not your name.
He sends you proof of who he is—photos, documents—because he knows you can’t be too careful online.
Every now and then, something seems odd. But when you ask him about it, he explains it in a way that makes perfect sense.
It feels better than your best dream. A man like this adores you, has fallen in love with you. You have so many plans for your new life together. He says his son can’t wait to have a new mother.
At long last, your man is coming home. You’ll finally be together, in person, and begin your lives together.
You can’t wait. You’re in a whirlwind, getting ready.
You get an urgent message from him. Disaster has struck.
Something unexpected happened. Everything is messed up. He is stuck in a bad situation, and he can’t access his funds. Or he needs you to receive an important package. He’s sending it to you right now, but you’ll have to pay $2500 on his behalf. Don’t worry—he’ll reimburse you as soon as he gets back. He’ll even sign a loan document if that makes you feel more at ease.
Or maybe the story is different. Maybe, just as he was heading back from overseas, his little boy collapsed. His son has been rushed to a foreign hospital, but they won’t treat him without payment. It will be too late if he waits for the two days it takes his bank to release the funds. Could you help? (Just the day before, you got to say hello to his son for the very first time.)
And maybe you’re a little bit suspicious.
But you feel guilty for doubting this wonderful man. Until now, he’s never asked you for anything. Besides, he has his own money. Of course he’ll pay you back.
The High Cost of Maintaining the Illusion
You know what gets me about these stories?
In spite of their growing doubts, in most cases, the victims STILL send the money.
Sometimes they even do a Google search and find there’s no such hospital. The images he sent were fake or Photoshopped.
But he has an explanation. He has to take extra security precautions due to his job. He’s worried about privacy.
Even though they have uncovered clear evidence that not everything is right, they send the money anyway.
“Why, why, do they do it??” I asked myself.
Then I knew.
It’s because they want it to be true so much.
Something about sending the money makes it feel true at that moment.
Doubting him feels so uncomfortable, after everything they’ve shared, after all the effort he’s gone through to prove himself to her.
Even in the face of clear proof that this is all a con game, she questions HERSELF.
When he reacts angrily and tells her she’s broken his heart by doubting him, she wonders…
Did I just mess up something wonderful?”
Hopefully you would never fall for anything like this, ever.
But romance scams aren’t declining because people are getting wiser. They’re escalating. Exponentially.
It’s SHOCKING to me how many people this is still happening to. There needs to be more information out there, so these guys can’t succeed.
You know that old saying, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t”?
When it comes to falling in love, the man we love definitely seems perfect … for a long, long time.
Now, some people really ARE “too good to be true,” in all the ways that count.
So it’s understandable that people want to believe. They want to believe in miracles, in magic, in romance, in hope.
Maybe they’re in a vulnerable place…
They’re feeling lonely and discouraged…
And they don’t know how these modern scam artists work.
When one woman after another says, “I’m so ashamed I believed him. It was like I was under some kind of spell…”
It’s because they were. These con men have had years to perfect their work. They know exactly what to say.
A man who loves you—but has never met you in person—won’t make promises he can’t keep. He’ll solve his own financial problems. It’s way too inappropriate (not to mention embarrassing) to ask the woman he loves to bail him out. He wants to love you, not use you.
If you’ve got some friends who could use this message…
Maybe they’re falling in love with someone online that they’ve never actually met…
Maybe they feel sorry for a man who needs a bit of financial help to get through a tough spot…
Then share this article far and wide. The more informed we are, the more we can fight back against romance scammers!