A family is concerned after their mom and wife, Debbie, fell victim to a romance scam. She met her romance scammer while playing an innocent game of SongPop, and started talking to him non-stop. Even though she was married, the scammer made her question how she felt about her husband and whether or not she even wanted to stay in the marriage. He asked for $50,000 to fix an oil rig he was working on, and she gave him the money thinking that she was helping out. Debbie and her family came to Social Catfish to get the help they needed as they tried to figure out whether or not this man was real. Here is their story.
How Did Her Family Find Out That Her Mom Was Getting Scammed?
Stacy, Debbie’s daughter, found Social Catfish on Facebook after doing her research to help her mom. She found out on January 4, 2021, that her mom was talking to a guy she had never met online through a game called SongPop.
SongPop is a head-to-head music trivia game that you can play with your friends, family, and random online players. You can message players within the game, but if your opponent is someone you don’t know, this could be dangerous.
She saw that there were a bunch of receipts in her mom’s purse, and after looking through them, discovered that she sent this man money. She bought a bunch of iTunes gift cards as well as sent this romance scammer some cash. Barry, Debbie’s son, has stated that he knows his mom sent the romance scammer a little over $50,000.
There Was An Issue With Sending the Romance Scammer This Much Money…
Debbie has been married for 41 years to her husband, Gene.
“She was going to attempt to kill herself because my dad found out, and she didn’t know any other way out,” Stacy stated.
Gene, Debbie’s husband, was suspicious that his wife was on her phone in places he couldn’t see very well. He was shocked that she turned out to be so untrustworthy since he has been able to trust her for 41 years of his life.
When he questioned her where the cash was, she said she was helping a friend out. However, when he asked which friend she was helping out, she said that she would rather not say… This sent red flags to Gene, who immediately wondered why she couldn’t say who she was helping out.
“After talking with her, she has now stated that she had never loved my dad,” Stacy claims.
“I honestly don’t believe in divorce. I think it’s the coward’s way out. I said 41 years ago till death do us part and I mean it,” Gene exclaims.
Why Did Debbie Send the Romance Scammer Money?
Debbie thought that she was talking to a man named Mark Scott. He claimed he needed money to get a machine on the oil rig fixed, so Debbie helped him out by giving him $50,000. The first time he asked her for money, he instructed her to go to Walmart and purchase him some Steam cards.
Mark claimed that they used Steam cards on the rig to purchase food and equipment. He claimed that it was another form of currency for them over there since it was easier for them to use Steam cards versus cash.
Each time she would send Mark money or gift cards, she would send them to different addresses in both Illinois and Texas each time. She doesn’t know why she needed to send the money to a different address each time if the money was for Mark. She just decided to help him with no questions asked.
He has sent her numerous pictures of himself shirtless and has been acting as if he cares for her. When she stated how excited she was to see him, he seemed like he was excited to see her too. However, Social Catfish decided to do their research anyways and our results shocked her.
What Did Social Catfish Find When Researching This Romance Scammer?
David made Debbie promise not to send any more money to Mark Scott as he figured out his true identity. He ran an image search and found multiple photos containing the same face as the ones Mark Scott sent Debbie. The results came back, and he saw that there were numerous scam warning sites that have posted his photo.
These sites allow victims of romance scams to view stolen photos that romance scammers have been using. Within these posts, these people can also comment on the photos with screenshots of messages and photos they have received from scammers who stole the same photos.
Since Debbie and the users that were scammed had the same photos, David knew that she was most likely talking to a romance scammer. He found a username that was linked multiple times to the image he was researching, so he decided to perform a reverse username search with it.
After running a reverse username search, he found an Instagram account with a bio that reads “This is my only Instagram account. Any others are fake.” This Instagram account was also connected to a Facebook account, which we verified as legit. David knew he had found the real person behind these photos.
Linnie, our search specialist, spoke with Ruth from Scam Haters United. She told Ruth about Debbie’s case and the discovery made about the real man behind the photos named Terry. She tried asking Ruth if she had tried to reach out to Terry in the past, and she confirmed she has. She told us that Terry is a private person and is a home bird. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone regarding these scams.
David Notifies Debbie of the Results
David revealed all the addresses that Debbie was sending money to and told her about his suspicions. He thinks that the addresses sent to him belong to real people who were also scammed by Mark. He thinks that Mark tricked these victims into believing he loved them and needed help transferring money into gift cards.
The scammers then take the gift cards and sell them on various websites, getting 80% of their cashback. For example, if a gift card is worth $100 a scammer can get $80 in cash back if they sell the gift card. These victims are known as money mules and don’t know they are a part of the crime. This is called money laundering, and this why you should never receive money from anyone online.
David also confirmed that you can only purchase things off of Steam using a Steam gift card. He told Debbie that scammers prefer a gift card over actual cash sometimes because a gift card is untraceable, making it impossible to get your money back. However, cash can be traceable and you can sometimes get your money back from the scammer.
David revealed the true identity of the man behind the photos. He showed her the most recent photo of Terry with long hair. He also revealed that Terry liked going to pride parades with his boyfriend, confirming that he is definitely not the person talking to Debbie.
David also turned his computer around to show Debbie a wall filled with fake dating profiles created with Terry’s photos. He tells her that there are hundreds of these fake profiles all over the internet on gaming platforms, social media sites, and dating apps looking to find a victim to give them money.
“He falls in love with them quickly and tells them what they want to hear and then all of a sudden proceeds to ask them for money for this… ask them for money for that… Every time they don’t get money, they get pushy and assertive. It’s probably multiple scammers, it’s not the same scammer that’s behind this,” David states, confirming that he believes Debbie has been involved in a romance scam.
He claims that multiple victims have had the same stories, where the romance scammer pretended to be on an oil rig. He explained that the romance scammer will never stop asking for money and will come up with any excuse they can to get their hands on your cash. A romance scammer will even pretend they want to see you if it means that you’ll give them money.
“They are right around the corner from coming to see you… they just need that one little bit of additional money to do it and it never stops,” David states.
He also explained that oil rigs have millions of dollars and will fix their machines immediately if there was an issue, making Mark’s story fake.
Debbie was really upset when hearing this news. David supported her by reminding her that her family was there to support her in her time of need, including her husband who still loves her. She wondered who she was interacting with, and he told her it was probably a 17-year-old in Africa desperate to make a living wage.
Debbie’s Family Comforts Her After Hearing This Bad News
Stacy reminds Debbie that Barry, Gene, and all the grandkids were there to support her. One of the grandkids said, “I’m really sorry but I do love you I hope you know that,” and Debbie stated, “I know you do, I love you guys too.”
“We’re a small family and we all need to stick together. Because we’re it,” Debbie’s sister stated.
“I’m in shock right now, I was so certain that everyone was wrong and I was right,” Debbie stated.
David reminds her that everyone was there for her and she has a strong support system. He hopes that Social Catfish has been able to provide them with closure to a point where everyone can start working on the healing process. Social Catfish has also offered to help them with their counseling sessions.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
If you think you’re dealing with a scammer or have had your pictures stolen, Social Catfish is here to help you!
If you want to be a part of our next YouTube video or blog post and share your story, now is your chance. You can educate our audience about what you have gone through and make sure no one else goes through the same thing. All you need to do is email ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com, and we will get back to you with more details.
You can also reverse search any information you have on the Nigerian romance scammer to see who it is you’ve really been talking to. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image you can search it up in our search bar to see if there is more information on the suspected scammer you are talking to.