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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.

Quaffle Fri 30-Aug-13 13:27:59

What, so she's just going to take advantage of her DSs niceness and let him think she's treated him differently to his older siblings?? Just because shes too embarrassed about being bloody stupid enough to lose her money to a scammer?? That's fucking appalling. Sorry. I had some sympathy for her until you wrote that. Bloody cow.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Fri 30-Aug-13 13:15:23

Was also going to link to the BBC article but it has been done twice already. Shocking that the perpetrators in that case were women deliberately preying on other women.

Sentences nice and long anyway, they don't mess around in the States do they?

MN is such a fount of information. My DD aged 12 was getting messages on FB from 'US soldiers' until I got her to change her privacy settings shock

WafflyVersatile Fri 30-Aug-13 11:19:20

Thanks for updating. At least she's not getting pulled in further now.

And as exexpat says hopefully she can move to rebuild finances and confidence.

exexpat Fri 30-Aug-13 10:49:50

It's amazing how widespread these scams are, and that people keep falling for them despite all the publicity. Did you see this story yesterday? Mother and daughter jailed for dating scam It sounds like it's turning into a major branch of organised crime.

I hope your friend can rebuild her confidence and her finances.

tribpot Fri 30-Aug-13 06:56:34

I'm amazed the scammer is still going. Surely 'he' was stuck in customs in Africa somewhere weeks ago, is 'he' having a Snowden moment or something?! Unbelievable.

LickleLemon Fri 30-Aug-13 00:58:27

Have only just seen this and am so sad for your friend
She is very lucky to have you as a friend though. I hope she can put this behind her and get on with her life ok.

SlumberingDormouse Fri 30-Aug-13 00:39:48

She didn't have any story for her DS, but he is so nice - bless him! - and was very grateful for what she could give. Even so, I imagine he can't help comparing his presents with those of his older siblings when THEY turned 18 - even though he'd never say anything.

On the plus side, my friend is resolute even though the scammer keeps asking for money. She's not stupid; now that she really has seen the light, I don't think she's likely to send any more money. The police remain involved, so I'll post if there are any updates.

oldgrandmama Thu 29-Aug-13 22:33:17

I've got a bet on with my cat - that any moment now, he'll ask to 'borrow' cash for her. ALARM BELLS!

tribpot Thu 29-Aug-13 21:52:06

I saw this today and thought of your friend, OP. I hope she has told her poor ds something believable to explain no presents on his 18th, what a complete waste.

SlumberingDormouse Mon 26-Aug-13 09:30:12

The police are investigating, which is good as they don't have the resources to investigate all these cases. The scammer continues to contact my friend, declaring his undying love, but she is wise to it now. Her son turned 18 yesterday and she couldn't afford any presents for him, which I think is possibly the saddest part of the whole thing. He doesn't know about the scam, so he must think it's very strange! Luckily, my friend has a good job which she's getting on with, but the financial hardship may persist for a while, I feel.

WafflyVersatile Mon 26-Aug-13 02:50:15

Any update on this? It keeps popping into my head.

SarahBumBarer Fri 02-Aug-13 14:45:47

I mean you might get no-where but you never know...I did catch an ex out sending me some irritating emails a few years ago but he was clearly not very sophisticated or me and Google P.I. would not have caught him out

SarahBumBarer Fri 02-Aug-13 14:43:34

Have you tried doing a whois lookup on the IP address of the email sender (ideally without your friend knowing that you are doing it)?

Whothefuckfarted Fri 02-Aug-13 13:52:33

This scammer thing happens a lot.

My mum told me about this guy she'd been chatting to online. (widowed with a young son) Talking about meeting up after 2-3 months bla bla.

He had 'problems' with his money, sent my mum a bankers draft for a 5 figure sum. Asked her to cash it, send some to his relative in the UK, some back to him where he was, and keep some to treat herself..

I googled 'bankers draft scam' that told me all I needed to know.

Made sure she got all the bank details he sent and addresses etc and she informed the police and the relevant banks.

She says she hadn't fallen for him, but I know she was hurt.

Punkatheart Fri 02-Aug-13 11:15:50

I don't think any of us are in a position to say if she is having a mental health crisis or if she is suffering from a condition that might make her more vulnerable to this form of money extraction. But clearly her judgement is off and she is showing - only from stuff that has been talked about her - signs of a form of strange addiction, like gambling. When someone who gambles loses money, they are most likely to throw good money after bad. They have a belief that things will 'come good' and this is in essence what she may be hoping.

This is very serious and the police now have to be involved. Because these people are seeing a huge payout they will push for more and also take more risks, like meeting her in person. We really do not know who they are but clearly they have contacts in this country. It really needs the professionals now. I don't want to scaremonger but this is potentially a very dangerous situation.

AscendoTuum Fri 02-Aug-13 02:31:40

Does she have any family you can get involved?

joanofarchitrave Thu 01-Aug-13 21:40:27

I'm sorry, I don't think she is having a mental health crisis, nor does she need professional help. It is slightly telling that she was in a relationship for a long time without any protection of her finances. She trusts and this is at the heart of who she believes she is. This crime catches a lot of perfectly reasonable people. She remains at risk of giving them more money and I'm sorry to say that you may have to watch her doing so.

skyeskyeskye Thu 01-Aug-13 21:19:23

Usually they claim something like the money has been impounded and you need to send more money to get it released . Then there will be another delay and so on and so on...

But know she knows its a scam she would not send any further money obviously.....??!!

She really does need some sort if professional help to get through this

tribpot Thu 01-Aug-13 19:39:56

Bear in mind the friend's behaviour is on the same spectrum as people who take an adolescent hero worship of a celebrity too far. They also believe they 'know' the celebrity, despite having never met them - at least the celeb is a real person smile This phenomenon is as old as Rudolph Valentino at least. She believes the fantasy figure is real, and she has had that belief fuelled by the scammers.

Are the scammers still assuming the persona of the US serviceman? I wonder why they're claiming she could get the money she's already paid out back; maybe you can't say OP but I wonder if she's been investing in something on 'his' behalf which they're claiming is about to come good. Normally - from what I've read since this thread started - it's more about money for travel, 'to keep the Army internet going' (who the fuck would fall for that one?), etc.

TheSilverySoothsayer Thu 01-Aug-13 16:59:43

I wonder if she perhaps has Asperger's? I believe I have (am having tests) and have got myself in some tricky situations thanks to my naievity blush My high intelligence didn't seem to help - except in talking my way out again, perhaps.

I have to say that none of them involved giving money to people I haven't met, nor 'falling in love' with them without meeting, it was trusting strangers in RL. (But I could have been robbed or raped.)

Punkatheart Thu 01-Aug-13 15:46:37

Good points, Bant. Often the more cerebral you are - the greater this kind of attraction will be...it's all words and magic, after all.

Poor woman though - she some ways she is clearly losing her mind.

Bant Thu 01-Aug-13 10:52:24

You can't have chemistry via a screen, but the mind is a strange thing. If someone says all the right things then you can create a fantasy. A projection of who you think they are, which you can become infatuated with. This is a common problem with Internet dating, you can chat for hours or days with someone you've never met, build up an attachment to them, and when you do meet you're disappointed by the reality. But if there are constant plausible reasons why you can't meet then the fantasy persists and you fall in a reasonable facsimile of love with them

flatmum Thu 01-Aug-13 10:00:06

I totally agree that you can't be in love with someone you've never met. Pheremones, smell etc are all required and have to be conpatible - that's why people talk about having chemistry. how can you have chemistry via a screen?

clam Thu 01-Aug-13 09:45:07

"Now this has wiped out her savings in one fell swoop."

Well, to be fair, "this" is actually her choosing to spend her money, albeit from a loan, in this way. Someone else might have blown a similar amount on a flash car, or gambling or cocaine. How can we legislate for that? We might not do the same ourselves, but we can't exactly report a friend to the GP or other authorities for having different priorities in life.

And this is also why I stand by my earlier point that you cannot fall in love with someone you've never met.

WafflyVersatile Thu 01-Aug-13 01:19:40

I hope she comes to her senses before sending good money after bad.

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