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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.

McBalls Sun 28-Jul-13 15:07:21

Terrified? Really?

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:09:51

Yes. She's having a man whom she's never met before flying halfway across the world to stay in her home for a week while she goes to work. She is desperate for love and therefore vulnerable in my opinion.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:10:43

I would worry when she has to send him his air fare because of some drama or other.

LemonPeculiarJones Sun 28-Jul-13 15:11:16

That does sound very worrying. Can you talk to her about putting some boundaries in place?

Sounds like he's hinting that he'll be back for good from the army and wants to just cocklodge with her confused

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:11:37

(a man whose identity my friend cannot verify as his work is so 'top secret' hmm)

LemonPeculiarJones Sun 28-Jul-13 15:12:12

Yes await the request for cash and then insist she deconstructs this infatuation.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:12:57

He is supposedly coming home for good. What I really don't understand is that he claims to own a house within 10 miles of my friend's flat - so why on earth can't they just go on a date first?!

bluehearted Sun 28-Jul-13 15:14:18

I know a friend who was in a "relationship" with an American soldier and he kept on saying he'd show up... Tomorrow... But then he'd be "sent away" then he'd push it back and he never showed up!! It might be similar for your friend. I'm afraid she won't listen to you... These men are very good at making women fall in love with them, she will believe everything he says but I would guess that he won't actually show up!

Is your friend in the US? If not then this does sound odd.

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 15:14:43

Here's a useful link for you/her. Are you in the States, OP? (If not, ask yourself why he would have a house in the UK.)

bluehearted Sun 28-Jul-13 15:16:28

Also, are you SURE she has spoken to him on Skype? My friend kept assuring us she had spoken to him on Skype but turned out in the end they never had! (I still reckon he was a 17 year old mucking about). Just a thought...

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:16:42

I doubt he is in the US, is an American or is intending to come here. My guess is a guy in a Nigerian Internet cafe about to get a few hundred £ out of your friend. Just wait.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:21:08

Good link cozie. I would not be absolutely terrified for her physical safety but would warn her that it is a scam and he will ask for his fare or some other expense. The other thing is they gain your trust by transferring money to you and you then send to them in some other account but then your credit isn't cleared. Can't remember the exact details of that but people get fooled by a credit showing up in their account that is then removed.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sun 28-Jul-13 15:22:16

Have you told her?

De hs nothing to lose in removing investment, bank info and passports from her flat when he does come over. Better safe than sorry. Th can joke about it at their ruby wedding anniversary if it all goes well. But personally it sounds very dodgy.

My DH was in Iraq shortly after we met, and the security etc was high, but I had access to his flat, had met mates, etc.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 15:23:33

Hmm, that's what I was thinking. I suppose I had been thinking along the lines of worrying about this man actually turning up, but now I see it's equally likely he won't. I did think it very odd that he claims to be a US citizen with a house in the UK (where we are).

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sun 28-Jul-13 15:23:44

There is nothing to lose... I meant to type.

meditrina Sun 28-Jul-13 15:26:09

Are you/she in US?

If so, then she needs to go and see this house - does it exist, and is it occupied?

If she's not in US, why does he have a house overseas and why? What nationalities does he hold? Does the house exist?

What does he do in the Army? Those in "top secret" work would never divulge this to a casual Internet acquaintance. At best, he's bigging up a routine job to sound good. At worst, he's a predatory fantasist.

Frankly, if she's hell bent on seeing him, you won't be able to stop her.

But can you persuade her to make a hotel booking for him? And does she have good neighbours she can run to if anything alarming happens if she does let him into her home?

mynameisslimshady Sun 28-Jul-13 15:26:40

Which site did they meet on? Are you 100% sure they have skyped?

bluehearted Sun 28-Jul-13 15:27:42

Slumbering - I can pretty much guarantee he won't show up! That link is good, forward it to her and then she has the facts. If she then decides to send the money he will no doubt as for, she did it fully aware of the facts.
This sounds very similar to my friend... I'm going to pm you!

bluehearted Sun 28-Jul-13 15:29:47

Mynameisslimshady - that's what I'm thinking about the Skype thing!

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:31:53

I bet they haven't skyped too slimshady he may not be able to in his secret cave in Afghanistan where he is employed in his top level work. If they have skyped I stand by the Nigerian coffee shop whatever he says. I hope your friend can afford the sting.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sun 28-Jul-13 15:32:08

Incidentally, in our case, Skype was not allowed by military as unsecure comms when out. Comms were via blueys and e- blueys (military mail).

I hope she does listen. Poor her.

arsenaltilidie Sun 28-Jul-13 15:32:55

I'm 100% sure it's a scam!!

Why does he own a house nearby?
In the army on a 'top secret' assignment, what kind of agent goes around telling people on the Internet he's doing a top secret assignment.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 15:33:07

I would like to open a book on this 100 to 1 against him turning up.

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.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 20:03:20

Well, I've found definite proof he's a scammer.

I found the following post by a British woman earlier this year on a military scams warning site. I've flagged in bold what matches, and redacted identifying details as I don't want the scammer or my friend finding this thread:

'I too have been scammed. This person's name is FIRSTNAME SURNAME exactly as my friend knows him, he’s in the military yes, his story is he has lost his wife yes and has a son yes, and he is working in Iraq on some mission yes and will be leaving in two weeks back to the UK yes...'

It continues with a story of there being a problem with the flight, followed by a request for money etc. So it's exactly as we expected. His name is on other scam warning sites as well.

My friend seemed shocked when I called her this afternoon to tell her what I've found, but she did listen to me. Unfortunately she is still planning to meet this guy at the airport tomorrow sad. I know he won't turn up but I just hope she won't send any money.

Mixxy Sun 28-Jul-13 20:31:48

Great sleuthing OP. Youre a good friend. Now if you can
resist screaming "I told you so" tomorrow, you'll be a saint.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 20:41:12

I hope I'm not right but I know that there can't be any other explanation for what I've found. I imagine my friend will be pretty upset and will need my support, but hopefully it'll make her wiser in the future! Will update.

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 20:44:20

Yes, Slumbering. Be so, so careful - you'll be destroying a dream and trust that she has.

By the way, if you want, you can contact MNHQ via the 'Report' function on your original post, and ask them to move it to the more private part of the Talk site - where people can still read it but it can't be google searched. Your call on that.

If your friend is OK after all this, get him reported via previous links and without alerting him. Maybe something can be done.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Jul-13 20:47:48

When it has died down a bit I may suggest to my friend that she reports it. He must be quite a sophisticated scammer to have convinced her, as she is a huge fan of good spelling and grammar and intelligent, cultured men! Therefore he might be in the US or the UK and not Nigeria, as they often are. It's very chilling.

cozietoesie Sun 28-Jul-13 20:53:27

Try - if you can do it without distressing her - to persuade he to put the report in while hr might still go online with her and be expecting some return. He's clearly in this for a lot and if he can be stopped, there might be a lot of other women who will be helped.

I hope she can keep him chatting online whilst reporting him?

Well done you.

tribpot Sun 28-Jul-13 21:36:37

God, I really hope he doesn't show up tomorrow. I can imagine that he might and be highly plausible in person as well. It might be worth an email to DAOLondon@state.gov (as suggested in Kernowgal's link) to seek advice. Obviously they will advise not to go to the airport, nor to confront him with your evidence. I'm sure he'll have a sob story about a woman scorned who has been defaming him on scam sites.

At the end of this article are the details of where to report him.

BrianButterfield Sun 28-Jul-13 21:47:51

You're a good friend for looking out for her. We have Chat/Take a Break magazines in the staff room at work and these stories feature with heartbreaking regularity. These are not stupid women but they just want to believe so badly.

cloudskitchen Sun 28-Jul-13 22:09:25

What a nightmare and what a good friend you are. why is she still planning to meet him at airport when you have shown her proof? I hope she has a change of heart after sleeping on it though I'm sure he won't show. Surely not confused

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Jul-13 00:01:30

Go with her to the airport. Take a photo of him when he's not looking. Go back to her house with them. Why shouldn't she have someone there with her for safety?

skyeskyeskye Mon 29-Jul-13 00:47:40

Well done OP on the detective work. I was going to mention Take A Break too. I've read stories about Army men who need money etc.

I had a fb friend request just this morning from an American army guy. Deleted it obviously!

Look after your friend, keep her safe and font let her part with any money.

The american army guy scam is well known and ahould be avoided at all costs.

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 08:21:05

It won't get that far, Imperial. Scammers don't want to be that visible. A problem will occur with his journey and that's how he will extract money.

My mother was really reluctant to believe that it was a scam. But I googled his picture and found him on several places, under different names. A picture of a genuine army officer was used fraudulently. Saddest thing was that he looked a bit like my dad, which stirred her heart strings more...

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 11:02:58

Well, he didn't turn up. And my friend now admits she has sent him money sad - not this time as she realised what was going on, but in the past. She won't admit how much which is understandable. She's now scared because he has her home address. It just makes me so angry and sad for her. Thankfully she has agreed to report it to the police and online, so thanks to anyone who has provided links above - they'll be very helpful.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 11:19:13

Sad - but to be expected.

Tell her not to worry that he has her physical address. He'll already be dealing with his other/next internet marks. Getting her at home isn't what this is all about.

If she wanted to (and it might make her feel a tad better) she could set up a new email (moving contacts across at her convenience) and a new online profile name if she's minded to keep on using that online dating site. (I don't use OD so anyone else who knows about it could advise on how easy that latter is.)

But that's really just for her convenience so that she doesn't get any spam resulting from all this.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 11:29:13

PS - warn her that this may not be the last she hears of him. He could very well contact her this afternoon/evening with some spurious story purporting to explain his non-appearance and trying to get more cash out of her. But if she's going to contact the fraud boys (and I'd get her to do that today for the above reason) they'll advise her on how to handle it. Helping to get him caught - or at least prevented from harming more of his current 'list' - might be the best thing for her right now.

Oh - and remind her that no-one is going to treat her like some kind of daft fool. The people that try to stop these guys are well aware of just how professional they are and what the circumstances are likely to be.

All the best to her in the future.

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 12:52:35

My friend has now received an email purporting to be from customs in Ghana hmm claiming that the man has been arrested at the airport for carrying an illegal firearm! No doubt a request for money to help him out of this situation is not far behind.

Thankfully my friend now sees that this is totally ludicrous and that there is no way she would hear from customs using a Yahoo email address in a country that has no flights from Iraq! She says she is feeling like a right fool but seems to be holding up well. I'm really glad the scales have fallen from her eyes and she can now report it.

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 13:03:47

Tell her she is NOT a fool - but a kind, trusting person who has been taken advantage of by people who are more cynical.

Yes - don't worry about them having her address. It's easy enough to find anyone's address and there will be many many more women they are playing. She can report it but alas, there is not much more that can be done.

Wishing her better luck with a lovely man and give her a hug and a cup of tea from me.

xx

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 13:07:45

Oh yes. They think she's sucked in now so they'll keep on trying for a short while. This is why it would be so good for her to report it now if she's up to it. Most of the time, the fraud boys (US, UK and international) find out so late that there's nothing they can do - but with a 'live one', it's just possible for instance that their techies might at least be able to track other women that they're currently fastened on to who haven't been as lucky as your friend in finding out.

I'm so glad she seems to be holding up - and has you there to support her, especially in the medium to longer term. Watch out for her to crash a bit a week or so after this has all finished. It must have been a series of hammer blows to her.

SarahBumBarer Mon 29-Jul-13 13:14:33

If it was me I would start playing him right now. responding, promising money etc but coming up with increasing ludicrous reasons why the transfer has failed etc etc - time he is wasting with me is time he is not scamming someone else. Want to send me the email address of Ghana customs - I can pretend to be her solicitor friend that she has asked to help in whatever way is required grin

Seriously - I hope your friend is ok and that this experience does not make her cynical but perhaps just a little more cautious.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 13:33:36

Slumbering

Without wishing to go OTT and raise your friend's paranoia levels, I'd gently suggest to her that she (sometime pretty soon) scan her computer for nasties - if she ever got private emails from him and eg opened pictures or so on. It's not unknown for these gangs to be multi-enterprise.

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Jul-13 14:21:41

Oooh yes, do that, Sarah!

I'm laughing at the Yahoo email address for Customs in Ghana. Of course they knew her email address, didn't they?

cozietoesie, that's a good idea - this is a live case so investigators might be able to do more with it, rather than waiting until it's an historical case.

BitOutOfPractice Mon 29-Jul-13 14:51:36

Oh OP sad Just wanted to say how sorry I feel for your friend. These low lifes really are the scum of the earth aren't they?

I hope she's ok in time. No need for her to feel embarrassed. These people do this for a living and they are really good.

WEll done on helping her see the light

BalloonSlayer Mon 29-Jul-13 16:52:23

Oh another friend of mine had an "American" internet boyfriend who worked for Amnesty International hmm and had gone to Africa on a diplomatic mission.

He ended up "being held by corrupt police" and needed money blah blah blah. She only didn't send him any because she was completely skint. I asked her what country he was in and she said "Africa." I had to point out that Africa is a continent, not a country. confused

This one had sent her photos of himself that were very staged, lying next to pieces of art etc. Most peculiar.

Ilovefluffysheep Mon 29-Jul-13 17:14:18

So sorry this has happened to your friend. I work in the fraud department (am a DC) and this is so common you wouldn't believe. It is amazing how many articulate, ingelligent women are taken in by this, it really can happen to anyone. Sadly some of the amounts of money we hear about that are paid are amazing, so I really hope your friend hasn't lost too much.

Perhaps the "best" one we had was a request for funds as they were in hospital and their treatment was going to be removed unless they could pay for it. This request was sent complete with photo shopped picture as "evidence". Unfortunately the victim we were dealing with really didn't want to believe it was a scam despite us (the police) telling her it was.

These people really prey on lonely women and go about flattering them so that they very quickly become trusting of them and calling them their boyfriend/partner/even finance despite the fact they have never met them. They basically tell them what they want to hear.

Makes me sick, and because they are generally all out in Nigeria there is nothing we can do about it. Glad your friend has got someone like you around.

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 19:34:58

I've just visited my friend and I feel quite sick with what I've found out. She told me that she took out a loan to pay this guy. She wouldn't tell me how much it was for, but she has a good salary and savings so I'm worried it's for an awful lot of money. sad angry

I also remembered that she remortgaged her house a month ago. I really, really hope it's unrelated to all of this, but I have a horrible feeling it's connected.

She showed me some of his messages too. His English is not wonderful but much better than most of the west African scammers. He has been very clever. This makes me wonder whether he (or perhaps an accomplice?) is in the UK or the US. I feel quite sick just thinking about it, to be honest.

My friend is very upset but she is gathering evidence now for reporting, and waiting to see whether he contacts her again. Thanks for all the nice messages on here. thanks

greeneyed Mon 29-Jul-13 19:39:29

This is so awful, your poor friend. Hopefully by posting you have highlighted this to other online daters

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 19:45:01

I hope so. I really feel that there should be more information about it on dating and social networking sites, as these scams can be extremely insidious. People think 'it would never happen to me' and once they believe they've fallen in love, are very easily manipulated by the scammer. It never crossed my friend's mind that this guy might not be genuine. It's rarely as simple as receiving an obvious scam email. I have some friends who are tech geniuses and know the online scamming world very well, so I'm asking them for advice right now.

tribpot Mon 29-Jul-13 19:45:56

How dreadful, SlumberingDormouse. I assumed given the length of time involved she wouldn't be in too deep.

She must report him now, not wait for further contact. The fraud investigators are much better placed to catch this guy now.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 19:55:16

Oh Lord - I also hoped that she might not be in too deep. She really must report him directly. If she doesn't get the UK guys jumping, I'd try the US Army references as well - with the reputation of their soldiers being dragged in the dust, I wouldn't be surprised if they have a special section of MPs dedicated to this.

I agree with you about the responsibility of networking and OD sites in this and related matters. Perhaps other people know of any initatives in this regard?

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 19:56:54

PS - the so called good English is not unexpected. They have scripts nd dealing with people over the internet makes them easier to use.

comingintomyown Mon 29-Jul-13 20:01:08

Jeez what a world we live in...

I must be quite old gimmerish but how do you fall in love online ? In love enough to part with money ?

Your friend is beyond lucky to have you OP and I hope this is something that can be pursued to help give her some closure/justice

ToTheTeeth Mon 29-Jul-13 20:01:43

How blunt have you been with your friend that she is being an idiot? I do think this is one of those situations where you have to be very blunt and very clear. Treat her like she's simple minded, because that's what she is being.

ToTheTeeth Mon 29-Jul-13 20:04:24

I'd stopped reading. I see she's now seen sense. Or rather, had sense forced upon her. I hope this is a massive wake up call for her.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Jul-13 20:06:43

ToTheTeeth

I'm not sure from what you say that you understand the nature of vulnerability or the nature of the internet - and a few other things besides. It is only too desperately easy to get sucked in to these things.

ToTheTeeth Mon 29-Jul-13 20:12:37

I understand the nature of the internet why is why I don't understand people who get sucked into these things-. But you're right, I don't understand the nature of vulnerability stupidity. I have very little patience for such people, which means I don't surround myself by them and my viscious cycle of blissful ignorance continues!

skyeskyeskye Mon 29-Jul-13 20:15:59

Without wanting to sound mean, it does take a very gullible or vulnerable person to fall for these scams. I would never part with money to a man I'd never met. For every one they reel in, there will be others that don't get involved.

Most people I know would not give money to a stranger in another country.

I am so sorry for your friend, that she fell for this scam. She's not the first and she won't be the last. I really hope that she's not sent too much money. I have heard of women selling their homes to send money to their "boyfriends" , whom they never actually meet due to various excuses all of which require more money. Some of them have happily given away hundreds of thousands of pounds.

tribpot Mon 29-Jul-13 20:18:06

Con artists have always existed. Now that the friend has realised the extent of her gullibility I don't think it would help for the OP to go round and point out she's an idiot.

She does need help protecting herself better if she wants to have an online life in the future, which the OP is doing (although this type of scam is not technical, it's psychological).

BMW6 Mon 29-Jul-13 20:20:41

I am just astounded that these scams are so well publicised that anyone with half a brain cell is still falling for it!!

I know people can be very sad, lonely and vulnerable, but even so.......

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 20:27:37

I think it's technical and psychological. My friend was well and truly psychologically hooked, but she's not that computer savvy and wouldn't think to Google or Tineye somebody - as I would most definitely do. She's also very vulnerable emotionally, which is what makes me so angry. So intelligent people definitely DO fall for these scams, which I think is a point that needs to be made - otherwise some people may think it could never, ever happen to them.

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 20:30:45

I think people need to have a bit of empathy and understanding. My own mother was falling for it - although it had not got to the point of money - because she was widowed and conversations with her 'man' made her happy. My mother looked after my very ill father for a long time - her life had been hell. Some joy was so welcome. I luckily extracted her from it but she is not stupid and it is insulting to say that. People in real life can fall in love and fall for idiots, abusers and thieves. That makes them gullible, but not stupid.

Also saying that you cannot bear people who fall for scams and do not have them near you - what a daft thing to say! Personally I have friends around me with empathy, who don't judge!

Poor lady - she must feel foolish enough without people gloating.

Of course you can fall in love via the Internet. People used to write letters and fall in love. What's the difference?

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 20:31:39

Panorama is highlighting dodgy online dating now....

ImperialBlether Mon 29-Jul-13 20:41:03

OP, did they speak on the phone or was it just email?

ToTheTeeth Mon 29-Jul-13 21:35:42

Of course you can fall in love via the Internet. People used to write letters and fall in love. What's the difference?

Very dangerous. It's nice people going around saying things like this that make people like your mother so easy to exploit by those with an agenda.

clam Mon 29-Jul-13 21:43:22

I just don't understand how otherwise intelligent people can fall for this sort of thing. I can tell you quite categorically that I would NEVER do so. I mean, come on! Borrow money to send to someone you've never met in your life? Really?
And no, you can't fall in love with an online persona. Or someone you've only ever exchanged letters with.

SlumberingDormouse Mon 29-Jul-13 21:46:01

She says they spoke on Skype, and I have now verified this (she showed me some Skype messages). Apparently it is possible to steal videos from elsewhere and make them look as though they're coming from a scammer's Skype. It's all very strange, and again points to an unusually highly sophisticated scammer.

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 22:01:41

I am not saying it is advisable, TotheTeeth - but I am saying that it happens, that it can happen. I have to meet people in the flesh. To recognise it is not the same as validating it.

Gosh this gang went to a lot of trouble - probably upped their game when they got funds.

Bant Mon 29-Jul-13 22:23:54

The people who do this are well trained, talented, and have been taught how to push exactly the right buttons, spot vulnerabilities and exploit them.

Saying that people who fall for it must be stupid is like saying anyone who l

Bant Mon 29-Jul-13 22:30:05

Whoops

The people who do this are well trained, talented, and have been taught how to push exactly the right buttons, spot vulnerabilities and exploit them.

Saying that people who fall for it must be stupid is like saying anyone who loves an abuser is stupid, or you must be a fool to have your identity stolen.

Communicating with someone online can be incredibly intense, and people will take advantage of it. Good people want to believe the best of others, believe they know them, and genuinely believe they're helping someone in trouble. Those of us who are more cynical can see it, but those who are less cynical shouldn't be mocked or blamed

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 22:37:25

Oh dear - premature typing release, Bant. Happens to everyone!

But well said.

BalloonSlayer Mon 29-Jul-13 22:43:41

Of course you can fall in love via the Internet. People used to write letters and fall in love. What's the difference?

Very dangerous. It's nice people going around saying things like this that make people like your mother so easy to exploit by those with an agenda.

I have a friend - who is so clever she runs rings around you, intellectually AND emotionally; she has my poor brain limping along trying to keep up - whom I met when she was an expat living in England with her two DDs.

She had come here to marry a guy she had never met in person. This was BEFORE the internet. I think they may have been introduced by a friend, I can't remember, but the bulk of their courtship was conducted via phone and letter. She came to the UK to marry him, thought ooh er! when she met him, but married him anyway because that's what she'd some here for, and lo and behold he turned out to be a nutter.

I can't believe that someone so intelligent, so savvy, such a feminist, with so much experience and cynicism regarding emotional crap, and with two DDs she was committed to protecting, could have been so stupid.

But there you go.

She is back in her home country now, her DDs grown up and unscathed, happily single and pursuing her [far above me] intellectual artistic pursuits,

Mystery to me.

comingintomyown Mon 29-Jul-13 22:45:49

Its madness

Slumbering you're a good friend. I really feel for your friend and hope her reporting leads to something, at the very least more awareness.

Punkatheart Mon 29-Jul-13 23:10:00

Intelligence and common sense can be two diverse things. I have a high IQ but I can be daft and trusting. Which is why, when I was thirteen - in a daydream - I took a short cut I wasn't supposed to and I was attacked by a man. It was only an attempted kiss but I did escape and later, he went to prison for some more serious crimes, including some paedophilia. Was I stupid to be trusting and skip home with a man behind me with clear intent? Perhaps. But I was a dreamer.

Henry VIII married a woman he only saw in a portrait. He wasn't exactly an underachiever. I think we all want to believe in love at times, feminist or not.

Balloon - your friend met a nutter but she could have met him in life and he could have turned into a nutter. These things happen. Arranged marriages also often work out.

WafflyVersatile Mon 29-Jul-13 23:12:33

I don't think there has to be video for people to skype.

But also it doesn't really mean anything except he is the person in the photos from the dating site.

zippey Mon 29-Jul-13 23:44:37

These scams prey on people who are vulnerable, so the posters who cannot believe anyone would fall for these scams don't know what they are talking about. If you are scammed It doesn't mean you are stupid.

You are a good friend OP.

zippey Mon 29-Jul-13 23:49:31

Waffly, the person on the Skype video won't be the scammer. They will find and download a video of an unknown person chatting - you can find any number of these - and the scammer will write the chat text. Hi, this is me, can't show video for too long, army policies etc!

It's quite simple to do really.

clam Mon 29-Jul-13 23:51:08

I presume you mean me, zippey. I'm afraid I do think it's pretty stupid to send money (and borrow it too) to someone you've never met in your life before. These scams are well-publicised, but even so, it's basic common sense.

Spickle Tue 30-Jul-13 00:13:42

Have PM'd you.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 00:52:09

No, I'm saying1. they could have spoken on skype but without video and 2. even if he did use skype video and it was him rather than an IT trick, it doesn't make him more trustworthy.

Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Walkacrossthesand Tue 30-Jul-13 01:14:25

These stories make me reflect on how important it is for single women to strive to be ok with being single - and hence less vulnerable to the 'I'll love you if you can help me out of a financial pickle' scammers. I hope your friend is OK.

celticclan Tue 30-Jul-13 09:10:10

I have to say I agree with Clam. Why would you send money to a stranger? Wouldn't it concern you that a stranger is prepared to ask for money?

Is it stupidity or desperation?

zippey Tue 30-Jul-13 10:10:38

Well, people do stupod things I guess, especially if you think you're in love. Im sure you can have quite strong emotional bonds with people you have never met. We cant all operate on common sense exclusivley. Thats why I have sympathy for this lady and other vulnerable people.

It might be stupidy, deperation, gullibility, but these are things most people face at one point or another in thier lives and that these criminals look to exploit.

Also, its not just single women who should strive to be ok with being single, sinlge men should strive for this too. Men get targeted and scammed as well, possibly more so.

heraqueenofheaven Tue 30-Jul-13 10:10:50

We were nearly scammed over the Internet a few months back. We were selling something online and were having many conversations with a buyer who was from the US, but living in the UK. He said he travelled a lot so couldn't pick up the goods and would we accept payment for the goods and shipping, then post it to a 3rd party. The transaction seemed really legitimate. Both DH and I were suckered in and TBH we have never ever fallen for anyone's BS until then. It was only at the 11th hour that my DH said this doesn't sit right with me and I googled scams on buying products online and straight way our situation came up as no.1 scam. Within minutes of this he emailed me again so I sent him a note with some ery offensive swear words that I cannot repeat here. I was really pissed off that this twunt had nearly scammed us out of a couple of hundred pounds. Obviously emotionally scamming someone is far worse. We should set up a wreak on Internet scams.

Treagues Tue 30-Jul-13 10:13:26

Women often grow up learning how to please, how to give the benefit of the doubt, and how to minimise suspicion in case they come across as being 'hormonal'. How to blame themselves for having a gut instinct that isn't 100% lovely.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 10:43:00

Because they know what you want and they are convincing in persuading you they can give you it.

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 10:44:38

Another update - this is getting quite scary and I can see why my friend is worried. It turns out that she has had contact with multiple people in connection with this scam (gang members, presumably, though some are probably the same person). She actually met one of them in the UK, which I find very concerning. She has also been threatened. The police have brushed her off and said she needs to fill in an online form. I don't really want to post many more details here but if anybody wants to know more, please PM me.

I know it seems very unbelievable that an intelligent person could get sucked in like this but it has happened! My friend had a PhD and has travelled all over the world so is quite streetwise. Her only crime has been to be lonely and vulnerable, and too trusting. Sadly, there are some very skilled scammers out there (apparently some gangs even hire English tutors and psychologists!) who prey on people like this.

Caster8 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:56:38

Agree with punk.
An intelligent IQ person is not the same as having emotional intelligence. They are two different sorts of intelligence. there are other sorts too, such as creative intelligence etc.

So I would have thought that women in highpowered jobs, high salaried, and lonely, can be perfect targets for scammers.

I also sometimes wonder whether a few of them think it is a potential price worth paying, being potentially scammed, for the few hours, days or weeks that they get to be romanticaly attached.

skyeskyeskye Tue 30-Jul-13 11:17:48

ADVICE FROM ACTION FRAUD ON HOW TO KEEP SAFE WITH ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMS.

Romance scams
Dating or romance fraud is when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons.

You register with an internet-based dating agency or join an online dating chat room. You receive a contact from someone who shows an interest in you. They may be from overseas, or they might tell you they are in the same country as you. Gradually, you develop a long-distance relationship through emails, instant messaging, texting and phone calls. As the relationship develops, your exchanges become more intimate.

The person you have fallen for will probably send you their photograph and give you a pet name. They may also ask you for naked photos of yourself and/or ask you to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam, particularly if you are female.

The person you’ve developed a relationship with is not who they say they are. In fact, you have probably been in contact with several members of a criminal gang.

Once the fraudsters are confident that you have enough sympathy and desire for them, they will tell you about a problem they are experiencing and ask you to help out by sending money. For example:

they’ve arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs, visa costs etc. Or they’ve paid for a plane ticket which is then stolen
a family member or someone else they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.
Once you send them money, the fraudsters will keep coming back with more reasons to send them money.

If you send pictures of yourself of a sexual nature, the fraudsters will threaten to send them to your family, friends and work colleagues if you don’t go along with their requests for money. If you’ve recorded any sexual acts in front of a webcam, the fraudsters will also use these to threaten you.

Are you a victim of dating fraud?

You’ve developed a relationship with someone you’ve met online via emails, text messages and phone calls.
The new love of your life looks like a supermodel in the pictures they send you.
They ask you lots of questions about yourself but don’t tell you much about themselves.
They quickly start calling you by a pet name or use endearing terms such as ‘darling’.
They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and, texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met.
They don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work.
They start asking you to send them money.
What should you do if you’ve been a victim of dating fraud?

Report it to Action Fraud.
Break off all contact immediately.
Report the fraudster to the website or chat room operator.
Do not send any more money.
Protect yourself against dating fraud

Trust your instincts. If you think something feels wrong, it probably is.
Guard your privacy.
Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know and trust.
Communicate with people locally and not from overseas, although you should be aware that someone might tell you they are in the same country as you when they are not.
Never reply to communications from someone who you meet on a dating site or chat room and then wants continue the communication by email.

skyeskyeskye Tue 30-Jul-13 11:20:27

I presume that you already have the following link, but there is live chat on there for help and also a form to report the crime.

If she is seriously being threatened, then she should go back to the police and insist that they take her seriously. It is all part of the scam though, in that they threaten her in order to get more money.

Hopefully she has seen sense now and will not meet anybody else or part with any more money. The person that she has fallen in love with doesn't actually exist and that is very sad for her too.

www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-romance-scams

Mixxy Tue 30-Jul-13 11:34:22

Really? The cops want her to go back to the internet to deal with a threat she encountered on the internet? Get back on to them, ask to speak to a female police officer, reiterate thay she has MET one in RL and they have her home address. Don't take no for an answer. I believe she is perfectly safe, but still.

Ilovefluffysheep Tue 30-Jul-13 11:39:54

The police will have asked her to do an online fraud report through action fraud. This can also be done on the phone.

This is the new way of reporting frauds - all police forces have signed up to it. Unless it is a crime in progress then and there or the victim is elderly/vulnerable then the police won't take the report. Action fraud then forward reports to the appropriate force to deal with.

Like it or not this is the reality of cutting funds/numbers of police. Not everything can be dealt with and certain types of crimes get left.

heraqueenofheaven Tue 30-Jul-13 12:03:14

I read an article a while back that said that certain crimes in the UK (and other countries) are falling in numbers e.g. burglaries, physical assaults and muggings which sounds good, but in real terms crime has not fallen because internet crime and fraud is on the rise. Apparently criminals are moving with the times and are finding it a lot more lucrative to steal over the internet. This includes from your bank account.

I think we need a lot more information on how to tackle online crime in all forms. Not related, but it also starts with making sure you have the best security you can buy on your PC. Don't ask me which one though as DH is techie bod.

This is a crime, not a bit of mischief. I am usually a real judgy pants when it comes to people doing daft things but in this case am not at all because I have seen it first hand. These people are vicious, calculating and very, very clever. Most people can see straight through someone sending them an email on behalf of some "diplomat in an African country who is in urgent need of funds and you will get triple your investment back, send your money now", but this is WAY more sophisticated than that.

tribpot Tue 30-Jul-13 12:08:40

All very worrying, OP. As you discovered someone else online who had been scammed by the same person/gang, is there any way of contacting her for advice?

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 12:15:52

Does she at least accept it is a scam now?

Punkatheart Tue 30-Jul-13 14:20:01

She has been threatened, met one in person and the police have fobbed her off? Astonishing - but also ridiculous because if the gang are taking such risks - it's an ideal situation for the police to set up a sting operation and catch them. I would get her to make a fuss and continue to do so. She is in deep now. What nature did the threats take? Are they written down? It must be enormously stressful for your friend....

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 15:21:22

The threats came through to her mobile and home telephone. She's going to contact the police again tonight, so hopefully they'll take her seriously. I don't think there is any mad rush if the police do want to do a sting operation, as these scammers have obviously been operating for months/years already and they will undoubtedly continue pursuing my friend for money for the foreseeable future... sad

I do worry that she may be susceptible to a 'second sting' as she keeps saying that she wants to 'get her own back' (VERY bad idea). She also seemed rather naive about the fact that these scammers are not going to give up now and will continue to try again under different guises. At least she is now aware of that fact so will hopefully recognise it if/when it happens.

There was unfortunately no way of contacting the other woman who's been scammed by the same guy/gang, since she just left a (common) first name and no email address.

I am very sorry that your friend is going through this.

I work for a money transfer company, and our channels are used by fraudsters (as well as by legit people obviously!) Never ever send money through this type of medium to someone you have not met.

I too find it hard to understand why clever individuals would fall for this type of scam, but have seen enough examples of it happening to stop being so judgemental. The scammers are clever and will push buttons. They will also hack into email accounts of people you know and send demands for money. My uncle has been caught like this. I also suspect that if you fall for one scam you will almost certainly be targetted again.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 16:06:43

She's given them money already then? sad

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 17:09:05

Yes. I have a rough idea of how much but would rather not say as she is extremely embarrassed and upset. Let's just say it's a 5-figure sum.

cloudskitchen Tue 30-Jul-13 17:18:48

Yikes. Oh no confused and what a worry. I hope the police do something to help her. I'd be inclined to change phone and mobile numbers and email address. Even passwords to various things just in case.

tribpot Tue 30-Jul-13 17:34:07

My god, she must not seek to get them back, these are hardened criminals! Do they know she is on to them, or did the threats come before the supposed 'trapped in Ghana' story?

OP you can ask MN to move the thread to a less visible area of the site if you wish.

comingintomyown Tue 30-Jul-13 17:48:32

Well in her shoes I would change all my emails and mobile details asap and not look back.

She has made a huge error but should cut her losses and forget revenge, whats that saying about the revenge seeker digging two graves ?

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 17:52:20

So I know you say she was on Skype with this man, but was she exchanging texts, too? And the landline - how did he have that number? Did she call him or did he call her?

I don't understand what's happening now. I thought once they got some money off you, they disappeared into thin air.

What are the threats? What can they threaten her with? Who is making the threats?

There was a woman on a Channel 4 programme about dating a few weeks ago - she'd given £70,000 to this guy (and she looked like she didn't have much so not sure how she did it) and once she said she'd got no more money, she didn't hear from him again. I thought that was the normal scam.

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 17:53:52

I would have thought they would have a wide sting, whereby they tried to get a bit of money off as many as possible, rather than a sting where they all go all out for one person. After all, once a person's run out of money, what can they do? And the sooner they disappear, the more likely they are to get away with things.

meditrina Tue 30-Jul-13 18:00:14

There are links about to the US authorities, who are interested in these frauds because if the impersonation of US military personnel.

I think that your friend should also report to them, as the physical appearance of one of the gang seems to go beyond what they describe in the links, and might be an important development for investigators.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Tue 30-Jul-13 18:00:54

How awful for your friend, OP.
Thank you so much for sharing, very educational.

I would suggest to your friend to get a completely new computer in addition to changing email address(es), etc.

Has she looked into her credit reports yet? The criminals may be onto her for Identity Theft as well.

flatmum Tue 30-Jul-13 18:03:22

if she wants revenge tell her to put the contact details she has for then (anonymously) on here: www.419eater.com sure they'll enjoy stringing them along.

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 18:14:03

I doubt she has contact details for him, does she? Everything he uses will be throwaway or temporary.

flatmum Tue 30-Jul-13 18:16:50

she'll have an email contact for him. and as far as he (they) know the scam is still in play.

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 18:21:22

I think they'd have to be a bit stupid to think that they could threaten her and she wouldn't call the police. Mind you, it's only now she's doing that.

I really don't understand the timeline of this, though. At what point did she meet someone? When did the threatening phone calls occur?

Caster8 Tue 30-Jul-13 18:24:06

There was a thread like this on here a few weeks ago.

The conman was out to take everything the educated woman had.
And this woman too, wanted to chase her money. It was her way of trying to control the situation .

I think the "get her own back" is much the same thing. The woman again trying to control things in some way.

arsenaltilidie Tue 30-Jul-13 18:25:46

Unfortunately there is nothing the police can do. The person she met will say it was for a 'business deal' and the guy they should ask is in Nigeria. Once in Nigeria there is nothing they can do, they are so many of them. I'm sure it's also frustrating for the police.

However, she need not worry about her safety, nothing will happen to her physically. In truth it's usually just a bunch of young men in some dingy cafe in Nigeria; don't underestimate education in Nigeria.

In 6 months time they will probably come back asking for more money often with a very plausible story.

She needs to change her contact details, check her credit history and cut her losses.

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 18:54:52

Unfortunately my friend gave out her home phone number and address. The mind truly boggles. I hadn't thought of the identity theft thing sad but I suppose that's yet another thing she should be concerned about. Her credit score may be in danger anyway as she has taken out several loans to pay the scammer(s). I wonder whether she went through all her savings first but I'm not sure I really want to know the full extent of it, to be honest! This is bad enough.

Apparently the usual M.O. of these guys is to 'work on' several victims at once, but most will keep going if they think there is any possibility of getting any more money. After all, by that point the victim is hooked. Some people have lost their life savings and houses and the scammers have still persuaded them to take out further loans! angry

We have a mutual friend who is an experienced 'scambaiter' on 419eater and he can't wait to get stuck in with this one! The priorities right now though are my friend's safety, reporting this to the police, and making sure she doesn't hand over more under any circumstances. I just wish she'd told me earlier and she says the same.

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 18:58:20

I don't understand the timeline either. It really is like a can of worms - multiple scammers involved (seemingly), multiple countries, love letters/threats, multiple payments in person and by wire transfer. Seriously, what a mess.

I feel so sorry for my friend but also can't help feeling angry that she's gotten so deep into this (unfair, I know, but I wish she had been more cautious - one Google search of any of the scammer's details would have uncovered everything!).

ImperialBlether Tue 30-Jul-13 19:01:30

What I don't understand is this. On Sunday she told you she was going to meet him soon. By Monday she knew he was a spammer but still turned up at the airport. Why would anyone do this?

And when were the threats made? How could she think all was fine on Sunday if she had already received threats?

What did they threaten to do?

comingintomyown Tue 30-Jul-13 19:03:23

hmm is anyone this daft ?

skyeskyeskye Tue 30-Jul-13 19:07:37

there was another thread a couple of weeks ago, but that was a bit different in that she had met the man, he was not an unknown face on the internet. She had dated him several times. He told her a sob story and she willingly parted with money as she believed that she was helping him and that he would repay her.

That is different to this, as this is a well known, well publicized scam which is run by gangs, not by one man trying his luck. The man in question simply does not exist.

Sadly, there is little chance of your friend seeing her money again. Also, although it is a scam, she also willingly parted with it, albeit thinking she was helping out her boyfriend. Nobody held a gun to her head to make her part with the money. She could have said no, she didn't have it, but sadly believed that she was in love with somebody and that she was helping them.

There should be a lot more public awareness of these sorts of scams. It is usually women that are the victims, although men have been fooled as well. Never ever part with money over the internet, never give it to somebody that you haven't met. Never fall for a sob story about illness, family problems, waiting for money etc.

Another important thing is mentioned in the info that I posted above. Never ever put yourself in a compromising position with Skype, photos etc of a naked variety, or committing sex acts on camera. These will later be used against you as blackmail.

All that your poor friend can do now, is to cut her losses, report it to the police and try and sort out her finances as best as she can so that she doesnt fall into debt.

Caster8 Tue 30-Jul-13 19:20:42

How many women are there falling for this sad

Are we sure this isnt the same woman? Yes, I think the other woman did actually date the man. But he lived locally too if I remember.

op, are you sure that she hasnt met him a few times?

Dededum Tue 30-Jul-13 19:27:50

My mantra which covers most things is:

If it looks too good to be true it probably is.
- online love now fits into that category

Sympathy for your friend, you are a good mate.

clam Tue 30-Jul-13 19:28:30

" The man in question simply does not exist."

^^This! Exactly. This was my point earlier about one not being able to fall in love with an internet persona. Because in all reality, that person does not exist, it's just a figment of a sad, lonely person's imagination.

ToTheTeeth Tue 30-Jul-13 19:48:49

Now now Clam you're being very judgemental. But someone will come along in a minute and tell you that her friend fell for one of these, but is really good at crosswords and stuff, so you can put your judgey pants away.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 19:52:44

Lots of people grow feelings for people they meet online. They are not automatically scammers or fantacists. Scams didn't start with the internet either, it's just one tool.

And the reason scams are so successful is because the scammers are good at it and know the right ways to manipulate normal human emotions.

These particular ones play on people's loneliness or wish to enjoy the frisson that comes with clicking with someone, the perfectly normal desire to be loved, cared for, feel appreciated etc etc. Other scams work on other human emotions like charity, politeness, fear of making a scene etc.

No, I haven't been scammed by one of these fantasy military lotharios, before anyone asks! grin

clam Tue 30-Jul-13 20:08:59

Well I don't know what "feelings" they're growing, but it's not 'love.'

<<hoiks bosom>>

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 20:21:11

hoik away.

There are plenty of people in relationships who would describe their feelings as love then found out the person they've been living with wasn't actually the person they thought they knew at all. Lots of people in real life make shit up and hide stuff. It's not just an internet thing. Lots of people make close bonds with people on the internet, sometimes never meeting them or not meeting them for a long time. providing they are being honest with each other then that bond is just as valid as any other.

Lonely hearts scams have been around long before the internet.

comingintomyown Tue 30-Jul-13 20:38:30

Yes ok BUT how does it not seem incongruous when your new internet love wants hard cash ? Sorry but how are these people "so clever" and able to "push buttons" ?

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 20:42:57

Ask them, or ask their victims. They do manage to do it so they are obviously clever enough.

Caster8 Tue 30-Jul-13 20:45:19

tbh, I dont really get it either. I would be careful about lending money to relatives. Lending money to a person I have never even met. Forget it.
Lending them large sums of £10,000 plus. You have got to be kidding me.

clam Tue 30-Jul-13 20:49:01

God, if my husband said he needed 10K I'd get a detective on it!

comingintomyown Tue 30-Jul-13 20:54:33

grin

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 21:05:00

My guess is by the time they ask for money their victims are already invested in the 'relationship' and the money is to protect that. The scammer has made them feel happy and appreciated and hopeful for the future, possibly for the first time in a while. Who doesn't like feeling happy and appreciated and hopeful for the future? Wait! Like all good romantic novels there is an obstacle. Oh no! It's ok. All that stands between them and their happy future is 1k, 10k etc. This is also maybe a chance to help this person who has brought these things to you.

comingintomyown Tue 30-Jul-13 21:07:56

I spose but

1. I am careful with money

2. I would say Oh no darling how will you get that 1k,10k etc but maybe that links to 1

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 21:18:31

Me too.

I wish I'd taken a bit more of a leap of faith in my last relationship. things might have turned out a lot better if I wasn't scared to risk a bit of money or giving up my job to relocate. I'm sure some people don't get that I didn't.

People in people are not all the same shocker!

tigerdriverII Tue 30-Jul-13 21:31:51

Good grief, your poor friend (literally so now, by the sound of it). I really do feel for her.

For those who are judging, think on this:

- people invest in virtual friendships all the time. Just look at all the high fiving that goes on on here, not in a romantic sense

- think of some of the really shocking troll threads on here over the years. People invest emotionally, often in a soap opera way, but also often because of supposed shared experiences etc. it's very seductive

- the media is full of happy tales of Internet dating. In fact, you'd think that no one met in the traditional ways any more. So if you're lonely and vulnerable, of course you'll think "me too". And (guessing here) perhaps it feels safer and more in control to "get to know someone" online.

- to quote scottishmummy: we're all just words on a screen. But lots of people don't see it that way.

Rant over. I hope this thread has warned anyone who is being lulled into a scam.

SlumberingDormouse Tue 30-Jul-13 22:01:12

FWIW, I don't really 'get' it either (I am cynical to a fault), but that doesn't stop me understanding how it works, and having a great deal of sympathy for my friend. People often don't realise how enticing these things can be until they get in over their heads.

WafflyVersatile Tue 30-Jul-13 22:09:20

But we're not all just words on a screen. That's the thing. Every word is typed by a real person even the trolls are real people.

Dfg15 Tue 30-Jul-13 22:38:26

omg, are some women really this desperate. Why, why, why would anyone take out a loan to send money to someone they have never met!! my mind is boggling!

Bant Tue 30-Jul-13 23:15:39

These things aren't just a voice out of the blue saying 'hi, can you lend me some money?' They take weeks, months even, building up a relationship. It's someone charming, attractive, funny, sweet. They email, e-chat, talk on the phone, on skype. And there is a small problem with something. They're not poor, they have money, there's just a problem with the legalities of something.

So it starts off small, a little bit of help, like a charitable donation for someone you care about, a small loan, then it grows over time until they're financially invested in getting the money back from someone they trust, but they can only get it back if they lend just a bit more..

Victims aren't stupid. They may be a bit desperate possibly, but they're just hopeful more than anything. And as has been said, these people know how to manipulate someone

Dfg15 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:21:38

I can understand a small amount of money, that might be already in a bank account, savings whatever. But to actually take out a loan.. Sorry but the victims ARE stupid. I've been in a situation like this, did online dating for a while, got talking to a guy, his picture was gorgeous. But as soon as he started asking for money alarm bells started ringing all over the place and I stopped all contact.

WafflyVersatile Wed 31-Jul-13 00:05:39

Everyone has their weakness, vulnerabilities. You have yours and theirs makes them susceptible to these scammers.

heraqueenofheaven Wed 31-Jul-13 01:58:19

I really don't fancy the thought of internet dating myself. Last time I chatted up a man (my DH) it was in a pub with our friends. That was 20 years ago. Times have changed a lot indeed since then. I know someone who met someone online who lived 300 miles away and he came to stay with her for the weekend. Imagine the pressure from that. Having a man you have never met before stay over!

A lot of people have told me that I am very streetwise and I have in the past had a gut feel about people who have later turned out to prove me right. However, I have also felt desperate loneliness at times and with loneliness often comes vulnerability. I am pretty sure that I would have "latched on" to someone if they had paid me attention at that time.

QuinionsRainbow Wed 31-Jul-13 09:27:38

I can understand using the internet to facilitate the process of meeting people, but I fail to see how anyone can say that they "love" someone that they have never met in person. Or am I old-fashioned and missing the point!

glastocat Wed 31-Jul-13 09:35:38

All these scams are a numbers game though. It's easy to say, oh I wouldn't send money ( I know I wouldn't, as someone else said I wouldn't even give my husband 10k) but these scammers target so many people, even if only one in a hundred falls for it they are quids in. It's like the old story about the guy who asks every woman he meets to sleep with him, if one in a hundred or thousand says yes, it's a win for him!

Caster8 Wed 31-Jul-13 09:48:16

"A small loan"
Do people give out "small loans" a lot in everyday life?
Perhaps they do. I think most would if they could and if the cause was genuine, to children even when older.
But friends even? I would want to know details first.

Seems like there must be people used to giving out "small loans". But I take glastos point that it is a bit of a numbers game.

zippey Wed 31-Jul-13 13:03:06

People fall for scams all the time. Have you seen the ones on Facebook et al saying FB will donate $1 every time a picture is forwwarded, or that you'll get bad luck if you dont forward messages on... these are all part of the same picture.

Its an expensive lesson for your friend but at least its done now before it got any further. I wonder what would have happened if you had not been there.

These people will be nigh impossible to trace, but their threats are hollow. They just want more money and this is the last throw of their lucrative dice.

cloudskitchen Wed 31-Jul-13 14:19:35

slumberingdormouse I just wondered how your friend is today after processing the information etc? X

shotofexpresso Wed 31-Jul-13 14:34:46

So is he asking for her to pay for his plane ride over?

SlumberingDormouse Wed 31-Jul-13 17:53:36

He's asking for money to bail him out of jail at the airport! As if... I think the full details of the sob story are earlier in the thread.

My friend says she is 'ok' and I suppose she is in the sense that she is carrying on with her life and is at work today as usual. However, she says she doesn't feel ready to go to the police yet. That, I have to admit, bothers me. Where is her anger? The fact that she hasn't reached the angry stage yet makes me fear that she could easily be reeled back in. She has also cancelled her upcoming holiday, which I think is a bad idea.

Caster8 Wed 31-Jul-13 18:10:48

It is like sharks and they are having a feeding frenzy. sad

Caster8 Wed 31-Jul-13 18:38:42
Squitten Wed 31-Jul-13 18:50:30

I would imagine she feels so humiliated and ashamed of how stupid she has been that she can't bring herself to admit to the full extent of it, which is what she would have to do if the police were involved.

My mother has been involved in online dating and I think she nearly got stung by a scammer. Thankfully, she told me a vague story about someone asking for money and I told her in no uncertain terms that it was a scam and if I found out she had been sending money to anyone, I would kill her. Thankfully she thought better of it.

shotofexpresso Wed 31-Jul-13 22:15:44

Wow, ok yes I would make her aware of your worry,

Does she have LD? how is she falling for any of this?

clam Wed 31-Jul-13 22:35:45

Have read that link, but I'm afraid I still don't understand how people can fall for this sort of thing, if they're otherwise intelligent. I'm really sorry, but I just don't.

SlumberingDormouse Wed 31-Jul-13 22:37:32

I've just found out that the amount lost is four times what I initially thought. It can only have come from a remortgage. I broke down in tears when I found out. sad My friend has a PhD and a high-flying career. The scammer's emails are so obviously scams and very poorly spelt. How the fuck did she get so sucked into this?!

skyeskyeskye Wed 31-Jul-13 22:41:14

I am very sorry for your friend that she fell for this. A hard lesson learned sadly.

All you can do is be there for her and keep an eye on her. Does she honestly now understand that it is a scam? She is not likely to send any more money is she?

It must be very hard for her to realise that the man she fell for doesn't actually exist and she may need counselling and help to get through this.

SlumberingDormouse Wed 31-Jul-13 22:53:48

I fear she will send more money as they are now trying the trick: 'You will lose all the money you've already paid if you don't pay the final part!' She keeps asking me to find out where emails are coming from etc, as if she still has hope. To me, this is irrelevant as IT IS ALL A SCAM.

flatmum Wed 31-Jul-13 23:00:22

I think maybe you should get her GP involved. as others have said it is impossible to believe that an intelligent professional with a phd (I know the mental rigour involved in this) would fall for what are well publicised and obvious scams. I think she must be having a mental health crisis to have given people that can't even spell large amounts of cash. It is lovely that you are there for her, but I am thinking she must nee some professional help as well.

skyeskyeskye Wed 31-Jul-13 23:02:16

you really need to get her to realise that this is a scam. a well known scam. please google info and give it to her to read. if she parts with any more money, she is a fool!!! I am so sorry for her, but she has got to wise up and see sense now. It must be heartbreaking for her if she has really fallen for this "man", but she needs to realise that he simply DOES NOT EXIST! She has been talking to a gang of scammers, not one lovely, in trouble, man....

Please please do all that you can to stop her parting with even more money sad

joanofarchitrave Wed 31-Jul-13 23:02:37

Slumbering I would agree with you, she is still emotionally tied up in this and I bet she is planning ways to give them more money. It is terrifying what can happen in this situation.

I have a male relative who has been involved in one of these situations. I was very complacent about it for over a year as he has no money. It turned out that he managed to persuade all kinds of random people to give HIM money, to pass on to them. They then phoned me...

Yes, I do think people who get sucked into this have some kind of vulnerability - there ARE people who would never get involved. But more people are vulnerable in more ways than you would imagine.

I have no advice. Keep supporting her. If she brings it up, say 'it's a scam,ithurts me to hear you have been scammed' and change the subject. If you have any way to protect her financially, do it, but don't lend her money because she will probably give it to them.

joanofarchitrave Wed 31-Jul-13 23:06:09

sorry but what the hell is her GP supposed to do?? She is an adult! She has the mental capacity to make stupid decisions.

flatmum Wed 31-Jul-13 23:16:32

Look either she is stupid or behaving very out of character for a reasonably intelligent person as the OP asserts. if that's the case then she clearly needs some sort of counselling or intervention and correct me If I am wrong but the normal way to arrange that is through your GP. The GP is meant to do what they always do, refer someone to the appropriate professional - counsellor, psychologist or whatever.

McBalls Wed 31-Jul-13 23:32:37

I agree, it sounds like she's having some sort of MH crisis.

Is there any chance at all the she's making this up? It just sounds so utterly ridiculous.

SlumberingDormouse Thu 01-Aug-13 00:02:18

She's not making it up. I have seen emails, receipts, bank statements, Skype chats, telephone logs... She is not a liar. This is VERY out of character. Is there any way I could get mental health services involved without her permission?

WafflyVersatile Thu 01-Aug-13 00:18:52

It is possible to talk to someone's GP about your concerns, if you know who their GP is. They can't discuss her with you, obviously but they can listen and note your concerns. I don't really know what they could do in this instance though, tbh.

The other option is to phone the council mental health team but again I don't know what they can do, if anything, or how fast they can do it.

Being foolish with money or love aren't really the sort of thing you can be committed for.

WafflyVersatile Thu 01-Aug-13 00:20:27

Apart from the police managing to do something all she can really do is face up to the fact that she's racked up a big debt and she will have to work to pay it off, the same as if someone maxes out their credit cards. sad

SlumberingDormouse Thu 01-Aug-13 00:52:50

Hmm, indeed. I want to make her see sense completely, but there's only so much I can do as she is a competent adult. At least she now accepts it is a scam, even if she doesn't want to believe it.

I'm so sad for her. Her ex-ex-partner left her with nothing because they weren't married and he owned all their assets. She has built herself up again from the ground. Now this has wiped out her savings in one fell swoop. It's horrible.

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

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

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.

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?

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

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.

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.)

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.

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

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.

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

Does she have any family you can get involved?

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.

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.

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)?

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

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

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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