Rebecca from Boston swore off all men for the longest time until her friend wanted to get back into the online dating world. She decided that if her friend was trying it, she would give it a shot and try it out too. She downloaded PlentyOfFish and met a man online who claimed he was from Maine. He used another man’s pictures to steal $100k from her in an online romance scam. We interviewed her and got her story.
How Did Rebecca Meet Her Romance Scammer?
She had been married before and got divorced which made her uninterested in having a relationship with a lot of drama and emotional baggage. She couldn’t have children due to medical reasons so when she saw that the man who contacted her on PlentyOfFish had a son, she was immediately interested in him. She got along well with both of them and thought that she was indeed in a very successful relationship.
What Did the Romance Scammer Say That Made Her Fall in Love with Him?
Rebecca and the romance scammer had so much in common, which made her fall for him more. He loved Mexican food as much as she did which made them talk about how they can connect over Mexican food and nachos. Because of this, it felt very real to her which she now realizes that it’s because they are very trained to lure their victims in.
How Did the Online Romance Scam Start?
He was traveling abroad with his son due to a contract he needed to work on. He knew it would be the last time he could travel with his son since his school started soon. He would send Rebecca texts stating that his card wasn’t working, so he needed extra cash to purchase necessities while they were on their trip.
He would guilt-trip her saying that he needed to provide for his son, knowing that she would spare him cash to make sure the boy got what he needed. She believed in what he was saying since he was using real-world examples that she could relate to.
He also told her he had a financier who would call her and help her sort things out to get more revenue. She took out the money from her 401K to pay the scammer so that she could help him support his child.
Why Didn’t She Tell Other People About Her Online Romance Scam When it Started?
The romance scammer told her not to tell anyone because he didn’t want to feel like he was being judged by her friends and family when he met them. They were small amounts of $50 to help him get groceries at first, so she didn’t feel like it was a big deal when it all first started.
How Did She Send the Money to the Scammer in this Online Romance Scam?
She would send it to an intermediary and him directly. However, as the scam evolved she sent more and more money to the intermediary. Every time she sees a Western Union or a Moneygram at a CVS, she feels a little kick in her stomach just seeing the signs.
After He Asked Her For Small Amounts of Money, What Did He Ask For Next?
He asked her to pay rent for the place he was staying at and also for iTunes gift cards so that his son wouldn’t be so bored. The amounts of money he would ask for just kept getting bigger and bigger, and the excuses became more elaborate. He eventually got to the point where he said that he needed to pay the people who were drilling the oil and she helped him do that, floating his business for a while.
How Did The Scammer Use the Kid to Create an Attachment to Rebecca?
He offered to send his son over to live with Rebecca, which she couldn’t do working full-time and did not have the infrastructure to care for the child. She also didn’t want to leave the child alone while she was working and since she didn’t have legal custody of the child she didn’t think customs would release the child to her.
Since he was a five-year-old, he was easily amused by stuff and didn’t need an actual online game to keep him occupied. For example, if she was chatting with the scammer on Facebook messenger she would send the kid hearts because he liked it when the hearts would fly up on the screen.
Was He Sending Her Pictures as Proof of What They Were Doing?
He sent her a picture of him and his son on a plane supposedly flying to his work site.
He sent her a picture of him celebrating his birthday.
She does remember that at one point he would have no beard when he sent her a picture, and then the next day he would magically grow a beard. These inconsistencies are usually big red flags that you’re talking to a scammer.
What Happened When She Confronted The Romance Scammer In Regards to Paying Her Back?
He said that when he got back and fixed everything that he would give her the money back that he “borrowed.” Toward the end of the scam when she was at her lowest point, She texted him stating that she was at her lowest point and that he needed to fix it. She told him that she had no more to give him and that she was thinking about suicide. He texted back saying well you have to do what you have to do.
She was clear to him that she had no more money to send him and kept telling him that he needed to fix. She had credit card companies threatening to sue her and was about to be homeless with her two cats. She felt like she was in the deep end of the ocean all by herself since no one else knew about what was going on, and she knew it was entirely the scammer’s fault.
She told him where she was feeling psychologically and emotionally and had the pills but didn’t want to go that far. She couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel once everything happened. Even after she felt all of this pain, the scammer only showed he cared about the money as he said you have to do what you have to do.
Rebecca Filed For Bankruptcy and Got Her Life Back Together After Online Romance Scam
It was hard for her and took a long time for her to do in every single aspect of the process. She had a lot of really hard conversations and had to deal with the emotional aspect of it. Before she met the scammer, she was at the highest point of her life since she was done facing adversity, was about to buy a home for herself, and was traveling. She thought that since she was at such a high point in her life that maybe she should give dating a try again.
When she started rebuilding again, she got a lot of support from Scam Haters and also started educating herself on romance scams. It was important for her to come to terms on what actually happened because she didn’t want anyone else to go through what she went through. She had a lot of unpleasant conversations and found a lawyer to hold her hand throughout the entire bankruptcy process. She had to explain in one sentence why she needed to file for bankruptcy and check it off the checklist, but scams is still not listed on a bankruptcy form.
What is Her Message to Victims of Romance Scams?
Her message to everyone dealing with this is they already took everything else, don’t let an online romance scam take your life. Take your life back from romance scammers, you can work to get everything back. She isn’t going to lie and say its easy, its extremely hard to do. You’re going to have your good and bad days, but be kind to yourself. You can do it.
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If you have been in an online romance scam and would like to share your story with the audience of Social Catfish on a YouTube video and blog post, please email us at ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com.
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