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Really worried about friend in possible romance scam

(221 Posts)
SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:03:48

I've just heard something from a good friend that has really worried me and I would like to hear others' opinions.

A bit of background: My friend has been very lonely since her divorce in February (the marriage was, by her own admission, a disaster and only lasted a year). She has always been the sort of person who jumps into relationships.

The current situation: She has met someone on a dating site, whom she has been talking to for 3 months. He claims to be in the US army currently based abroad. She says that he must be genuine because they have spoken on webcam on Skype. However, to me that is not conclusive proof that he is legitimate. I am aware that scams involving fake US soldiers are very common.

What's really scaring me is that this man is coming to stay with my friend for a week very soon! She has never met him before! He claims to have a house nearby but 'doesn't want to be alone' so he's staying with my friend. This is after he supposedly returns from his last army placement to retire.

To me, there are a lot of red flags here. I think my friend is absolutely crazy and I am terrified for her safety - but she insists she is in love with this man and knows him well.

Any advice would be welcome please.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:35:43

We are in the UK, not the US. I don't know for sure that they have talked on Skype but my friend did make a new account recently so maybe. There is one neighbour she could tell but I fear she won't as she has sworn me to secrecy! I think she knows rationally that it is a bad idea (very clever woman in a high-flying job) and is embarrassed about what others would think if they knew.

meditrina Sun 28-Jul-13 15:36:08

And adverse odds on his suddenly needing an advance for his airfare?

bluehearted Sun 28-Jul-13 15:38:30

If his work is "top secret" he wouldn't be online dating and skpying whilst on deployment. That's just ridiculous! I feel sorry for your friend getting sucked into his lies and feeling like she's falling for him.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:40:18

Sadly she won't be the first clever woman in a high flying job to be made a fool of like this. I understand many cases never get reported because of the humiliation. I hope you get some sense in to her.

She may have a high flying job but common sense has flown out of her window!

Punkatheart Sun 28-Jul-13 15:41:18

My mother nearly fell for the same thing. It is always the same story - he will be an army officer who will respond to all her comments by mirroring them. My mother goes to a Methodist church - this man did too. Then they are retiring and will be coming over to a friend's house. Suddenly there will be a problem and he will need money to help. He will never arrive but she will pay.

Please google some info and make her see sense.

tribpot Sun 28-Jul-13 15:43:36

I'm baffled as to why she thinks having skyped him is proof of his identity. His story sounds lame in the extreme, and I think for her own safety you need to tell her so. She is mad in the head if she lets him stay at her house.

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 15:45:09

A high flying job will mean a high salary and probable savings - which makes it worth any scammer's while to invest some time in the mark. Nothing is completely impossible but the odds are so bad for her that I don't blame you for thinking of an intervention.

LottieJenkins Sun 28-Jul-13 15:45:40

Show her this thread!

Punkatheart Sun 28-Jul-13 15:48:36

They will ask the person they are about to scam to come off the dating site and do private messaging instead. It all fits definite pattern. It is usually for very vulnerable women. My poor mum still talks about 'him' as if he was the man in the picture. In reality, it is probably a gang.

http://www.executivegov.com/2010/03/army-impersonators-scam-women-on-dating-social-networking-sites/

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 15:48:59

I'd lay reasonable money, in fact, on something happening in connection with 'his house' which makes it necessary for him to 'borrow' money from her in order to 'sell it' and 'set up home with her'.

MrsDeVere Sun 28-Jul-13 15:51:04

She may have given him money already but doesn't want to admit it.

There was a thread a long while ago about this. It was someone's mother involved I think. It was so sad and I often wonder how it turned out.

They guy is a fake, no question.

I have heard of women contacting the US to check up on these people but unfortunately its always too late.

Punkatheart Sun 28-Jul-13 15:52:57
SwedishHouseMat Sun 28-Jul-13 15:53:53

100% scam. Why supposedly intelligent women fall for this sort of crap is beyond me.

Punkatheart Sun 28-Jul-13 15:56:40

It's nothing to do with intelligence - there are often cleverly done and some people are vulnerable, newly divorced or bereaved. Once you know about it - of course you are wary. But a lot of people still take it at face value, particularly women of my mother's generation, who believe that people tell the truth and don't really understand the Internet...

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 15:57:26

Because they're vulnerable - and the scammers are good at what they do. Plenty of people fall for scams of all sorts - not all like these US soldier ones - and it all seems obvious after the event. Just not while they're living in the middle of it.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 16:03:13

Intelligence doesn't offer much protection for people that are naive and needy, they need to have a healthy level of cynicism.

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 16:10:41

Just remember that if this is a scam, it's likely serious crime. The scammers go for vulnerable people (online dating is good territory for them - lots of people desperately wanting a new relationship) with a solid financial history.

Take a prospective Mark X. (Male or female.) High salary, maybe £50k in savings, own their own home, either entirely or largely. That's an easy £100k in prospect for Joe Scammer.

And they usually have lots of these people in their clutches - just need to keep a computer online and keep their information reasonably straight. So that could be an easy £1 or £2 million pounds for half a year's low risk work.

It's not Toytown this stuff.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 16:14:41

Yes, a lot easier and more lucrative than working and less risk than drug or gun dealing or people trafficking. It is sophisticated crime.

BalloonSlayer Sun 28-Jul-13 16:18:07

I knew of someone else who had a soldier coming to visit - he never turned up. She was frantic. She had a meal cooked for him and everything. She was so worried about what might have happened to him. hmm Turned out he had "had a car accident" and wasn't able to make it to her house. Riiiiiiight. She totally believed it all. Can't imagine why. I don't think she had given him any money but I didn't know her well enough to ask.

Kernowgal Sun 28-Jul-13 16:19:43

Funnily enough I was just reading about something similar this morning.

Some links here:

www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6528&sid=ca121792176f67871d7fe846266be8e9

www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=74051

london.usembassy.gov/dao/internet_fraud.html

The "house in the UK" bit is what made me go hmm.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sun 28-Jul-13 16:19:55

I agree. He'll come up with a reason why he needs cash.

I hope she doesn't send him any.

tribpot Sun 28-Jul-13 17:06:16

And from the links Kernowgal has given, there is this actual document from the US Army's Criminal Investigation Command. She needs to read this.

LemonDrizzled Sun 28-Jul-13 17:21:24

When I was OD I met a man who was in a top secret military job overseas and skyped me from his barracks. He was retiring too. I was hugely sceptical but it was actually true!!
Sadly he was a knob and it didn't work out but the whole thing gave me and my girlfriends some hilarious times trying to work out what was real.
Just tell your friend to be careful

TheNewSchmoo Sun 28-Jul-13 17:54:22

I had a "friend" once (not a romantic liaison thankfully), who was travelling the world and we would chat on skype. Randomly only ever by the chat instant message thing and not face to face. He said the wifi kept dropping in and out....

Turned out he was no friend and was an incredibly bad apple, but my point is, she may well be talking to him on skype, but not seeing him. Regretfully in these cases people usually won't listen to those who care about them and have to learn the hard way.

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