Jennifer is a woman currently living in New York who met a man who claimed to be named David Smith on Twitter. David claimed he was living in California before being deployed to Afghanistan. David and Jennifer were dating for eight months before things took a turn for the worst. She was also contacted by a man named Fred around this time who told Jennifer that he was David’s platoon leader. They would come up with countless excuses as to why they needed to borrow money from Jennifer, which made her suspicious that she was talking to a romance scammer.
Was Jennifer talking to a romance scammer? Keep scrolling to find out!
How Did This Romance Scam Start?
David contacted Jennifer on Twitter at the end of October, claiming that she was beautiful and wanted to get to know her more. He claimed that he was living in California then got deployed to Afghanistan. After talking to him for a few weeks, another guy who claimed his name was Fred contacted her claiming to be David’s platoon officer.
David and Fred would consistently text Jennifer and come up with reasons as to why they needed to borrow money from her. They would contact her non-stop, which made her suspicious as to what was going on.
David claimed that he needed $10,000 for a lightweight machine gun. However, Jennifer told him that she did not have $10,000 to give him. David then told her that he found a used one for $1,600, so Jennifer proceeded to send him the money.
Then, Fred claimed that David is stuck in the Netherlands after being re-stationed with no money to get back. He claimed that Jennifer needed to send him more money so that he could come back to California and pay her back the money he borrowed from her. All they needed was $6,000 so that he could come back home. Then, it was another $4,000 on top of that.
Jennifer Lies to Her Parents About Why She Needs Money
Jennifer suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), which is a disease that eats at the nerves, and used that as an excuse to borrow money from her parents. She would claim that she needed certain types of treatments that cost thousands of dollars each time.
She lied to them and said a certain type of medicine wasn’t working, even though it was. They gave her the money thinking that it was going to go to her medical treatments, but instead, it went to David so that he could come back home.
She Sold Her Family’s Jewelry to Pay Her Romance Scammer
David needed an additional $6,000 to pay for his trip to come back home. Her father was in the hospital after suffering a stroke, so she couldn’t ask them for money directly. While her father was in the hospital, she snuck into their home and stole their jewelry. She then pawned the jewelry at a pawn shop so that she could receive the money for him.
When her father got home, he saw that she was in his house and became suspicious. He looked in his safe where his watches were and saw that they were all gone. Her parents called the police on her, and she ended up going to jail for two days.
“I cried the whole time I was in there,” Jennifer stated about her experience in jail.
She went to court once she got out where they put an order of protection and charges against her. She’s not allowed to go to their house, go near them, or contact them. Her sister has to bring her mail and laundry over to her.
“It’s really sad to think that I had everything, and now I have nothing,” Jennifer states.
She emptied her savings account, bank account, and her parents refused to lend her any more money. She states that she lost all common sense because she really loved David and still can’t believe she did this. She reached out to Social Catfish because if she can prevent this from happening to someone else she would be more than happy to.
She Used Gift Cards to Send Thousands of Dollars to the Romance Scammer
When you purchase a gift card from Apple, the most you can put on one card is $500. She would send $200 here and $200 there to her romance scammer, and had bags full of gift cards that she showed us. Whenever she sent David $6,000, she would purchase twelve $500 gift cards.
In total, we estimate that she sent over 160 gift cards to help David out. That equals out to 10 pounds of gift cards. The total amount of money she ended up sending to her scammer he sent $60,000-$70,000 to her scammer.
With the gift cards, they either purchase the services that come with the gift card or they sell them on the dark web for 80% of what they are worth. iTunes and Amazon gift cards can not be used to pay bills, purchase food, or to pay for utilities. If they have your trust, they will do anything in their power to have it make sense to you. Scammers ask for gift cards because they are untraceable and nearly impossible for the victims to get their money back.
Social Catfish Investigates The True Identity of the Scammer
Social Catfish was hard at work trying to figure out the identities of the two men in the photos. As soon as we figured out the information, our search specialist Linnie decided to give Jennifer a call.
First, Linnie reviewed the certificates that the scammer sent to Jennifer. Even though the check had a seal of the Army in it, she was still able to tell it was fake. She first looked at where it says “Pay” and it doesn’t have the name of the person it was supposed to get sent to. Instead, it has the amount the check is worth even though it’s supposed to go on the next line.
Then, it has account numbers that contain the same numbers in groups of three and two. For example, the account number was “000,” “222,” and “22.” The routing number is just a sequence of numbers that says “123456789.” A lot of times when catalogs feature checks, they normally fake the routing number in the example photo to feature a series of numbers. This all confirms that it is a copy of a check and is fabricated.
Then, we have two documents claiming to be from the Administration of the US Army. They were dated within a few days apart from each other, and one of them contains a misspelling.
One thing that Linnie knows about the military is that they receive paychecks just like the rest of us and don’t receive allowances at all. She also noticed that one of the seals in the document is kind of squished showing it has been copied and pasted, making it look like a fake document.
The photos that Jennifer had of the two men were flagged on various social media sites, showing that their photos were used a lot by scammers. They found out that one of the men was named Jon Helgren and found his official Instagram page with all the photos Jennifer had on it. He’s a production manager who works with props in movies in Los Angeles, California.
The Social Catfish team sent a link to Jennifer to send to the scammer. The scammer clicked on it, thinking that he would receive money from it. However, it tracked the location of where he was instead. On the tracker, it said that he was in Lagos, Nigeria.
She also received a FaceTime call from someone claiming to be David’s friend. He stated that she needed to help David and send him money. By connecting the dots, they could confirm that the young man who called her was also pretending to be David in Nigeria.
Jennifer now knows what to watch out for and knows that social media platforms are a scammer’s delight. She was suspicious at first, but after watching our videos, she got the information she needed to know to determine that she was talking to a scammer.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
If you think you’re dealing with a romance 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.