A lot of us are lonely or at least want to find someone, and there are execrable people out there waiting to take advantage of that to swindle us out of thousands of dollars. I had the poor fortune to waste a week corresponding with one of these folks. Fortunately I refused the hook, but I thought the story would be educational.
It started after I downloaded a lesbian dating app called HER. I’ve no particular complaints about the app. I was contacted by a woman called “Erika” who was listed as being 24 miles away and 39 yrs old. I’m somewhat suspicious because that’s 19 years younger than me, and while every middle aged person would like to be with some young hot thing, most young hot things don’t want that.
I ask and I get some pablum answer that the younger girls aren’t honest, a truly ironic answer, and we chat back and forth a bit. Inside of some extremely small period of time she’s already saying how comfortable she’s feeling and that she can tell I’m honest, and I’m saying to myself, sure I’m very honest, but how the heck would you know that.
She gives me a phone number so we can text, and honestly this should have been a serious warning flag. I had some misgivings but went ahead. Nothing bad came of this particular action but I recommend against it.
We go back and forth and there are more peculiar things. The phone number she gave me is from Springfield, but she tells me she lives and works in Boston. I’m thinking that this isn’t impossible, she could have moved, the mobile company could have given her an out of area number. By itself not a big clue.
She leads me on in thinking we could see each other on the weekend, she even words it that we could spend the weekend together. Meanwhile she’s upping the ante by making her language more and more familiar and essentially trying to get me to feel bonded to her. At some level this works in that I did entertain the fantasy that this was real. At heart I knew as time went on that it wasn’t as the lies built.
As the weekend got closer she had reasons to not be able to get together and oh, by the way, she lives in Springfield, but she likes to drive. I tried to suggest, hey, Worcester is about halfway, what about getting together just to see each other over a sandwich in Worcester? Somehow this can’t happen.
Meanwhile there are other signs that things aren’t what they seem. She sent two selfies, one up front and then one more when I asked after my initial poking session because things weren’t adding up. I had other requests for selfies that were essentially ignored – obviously because whomever was at the other end didn’t have more to send of the girl in the photo.
Lots of stuff I said, like my interests, went ignored and then she asked later. Kind of like she was following a playbook. She never asked about my being transgender, even when I explicitly mentioned it which is an astounding thing.
Finallyn, we agreed that she would come to dinner. This was built up and I was actually pretty excited because it made it seem real. After all, if she’s actually going to come to dinner then she must actually exist. I vastly underestimated how cruel a game these people play.
The morning of the dinner, they day she was to come out I get a message from her to check my email. Here’s the body:
Good Morning Sunshine…I woke up to this letter from my late dads layer in the UK check the attachment honey.Hugs and Kisses
The attachment claims that some property or properties are to be sold and requests her immediate presence. As soon as I see this my heart gets cold as ice. I know the rest of the playbook, so the only thing left to do is play with the cat. She of course has to leave and not come to dinner; this is apparently typical in these scams, the ever vanishing meeting point.
In case you don’t know, some of the following would have happened:
- Lost papers, credit cards, etc please wire money
- Need money to transfer funds
- Need more money for xyz
- Need money to pay bribes, custom fees, travel expenses
All with promises to be paid back. There would have been explanations of why she didn’t have the funds available of course.
Our admin showed me an article in Reader’s Digest and the victim was taken for $300K in all, never having met the conman.
“She” had claimed to be a software engineer (bad mistake, I really am a software engineer and I’ve been one for 30+ years) so I asked her some pretty ordinary questions and got some interesting answers. It was immediately obvious that she knew nothing about it. Just her description of what she had been doing at her latest job was ridiculous. She prevaricated and tried all kinds of deflection and when that didn’t work essentially tried bribery:
I was thinking of selling those properties. And establish my self here with the money and I need someone who can encourage me and show me the way that’s why you are older than me and I thought in my heart I can’t do this alone I need someone by my side
You made me fall for you and trust you
You made me have sleepless night because I think about you all the time since we started talking
New story of course with needing me to show her the way! I think she knows the way, tempt people with money!
My answer, at this point I’m just enjoying being ironic:
You still hadn’t told me these incredibly unimportant details of your life this last week. All you’ve done is deflect. Asking about your expertise brought on anger no answers. And i personally think that if what you say is true then my first lesson to you is to understand that people don’t always tell the truth and seek to motivate us by greed
So I received a couple more photos that were also taken by a third party, I’m not sure what “Erika” thought they’d accomplish, but they just proved to me that she wasn’t real.
Some other clues
There were other things I thought didn’t stack up at all, but was willing to hold off until after dinner:
- Her name: She claimed her father was Italian and her mother was Irish. Johnson is a pretty odd Italian surname.
- Her email: It’s misspelled. It was supposed to be erikajohnson### but ended up as erikajoshnson###. I should have realized it was a throwaway from that
- Our one phone call: Her audio was so broken up I basically neither could understand her nor really pick out an accent. I did not get italian for the accent though. I later realized she was probably not in the US.
- Disappearing chat: We’d be in the middle of a chat and she’d stop responding. Obviously to respond to another of her victims but it wasn’t clear then.
Even after I knew it was over it took awhile for me to fully admit it to myself. I went back and asked her questions, I did hope that she was real. At some level I feel pathetic for not just hanging up. Hope is very hard to set aside.
Even though it wasn’t real, I sorta miss the early morning bright message I was getting. It was fake and it was probably from some 50 yr old fat dude but it felt nice in the morning.
The desire to be loved, held, desired, and cared for is there within us all. It is a basic human need, as basic as food, water and shelter. These people are parasites.
Rules to live by
- Insist on staying with the chat/messaging system on the dating site so you don’t give up your privacy
- Stick with interests and compatibility and be incredibly suspicious if someone claims attraction just from text messages
- Anything involving money should be sending up flares
- Any mention of honesty and trust should make you think about how honest and trustworthy have they been. One of the things that really kept me out of danger was recognizing all the lies she had told. The more they use those words, the less you can probably trust them.