Romance Scammer: your scam
Dear Marion, how did you meet James and what was your first impression of him?
Marion: I met James on an online dating site where I had been trying my luck for several months. Three years after my divorce, I ventured to meet new people online and somehow hoped that maybe I would meet again the great love. But unfortunately there was nobody here who could conquer my heart. The lyrics too clumsy and by no means original and the men my age also not very attractive. Until I met James, who obviously knew what women wanted to hear.
How did James manage to conquer your heart?
Marion: James had written very openly in his first message what he had already experienced at the age of 38, what his situation was right now and what he wanted for the future. It all sounded very tragic and I felt sorry for him and his fate. He spoke of his deceased wife and two children who had to live with his grandmother because he was stationed in Afghanistan. And yet he raised so much hope for a future with much love and joy. I could identify with it well because I had no easy past and I wanted nothing more than a healthy future. And so we had every day contact.
How has the further contact developed between you?
Marion: We wrote daily and the conversations became more intense. I told him about my divorce because my ex-husband cheated on meand that’s why I lost confidence. He flattered me more and more after some time and said that he would never have the heart to cheat a woman. After about 2 weeks he put more and more compliments in my direction, called me “Love” and made me his “glimmer of hope” on his lonely days. We also started talking on the phone and wrote about WhatsApp. Then he did not call for a day at all. That was the day I realized how much I missed him and how I cared for him. I missed his words and closeness, although we had not met before. Today, I think he made that aware to show that I really can not live without him.
James soon asked you if you could send money. How much money was there and what did he want it for?
Marion: Yes, he asked me about six weeks after we got to know if I could help him. By being stationed in Afghanistan, he would not be able to send money, which is urgently needed, to his children. He said that his daughter seems to have become very ill and the doctors do not know what she has. To find out, many examinations by specialists would be necessary. You would need € 1,500 for the first exams and James asked me if I could send them via Western Union. Without much thought, I sent the money to his children.
Why did you send money to a stranger? And what happened after that?
Marion: In the last few weeks, the contact between me and James was very close and I was already in love. For me it was always out of the question to not help someone I love. I know that sounds very naive. However, even if now everyone suspects that the money was gone, is wrong. Three weeks later, I got the money back. That, of course, created confidence on my part. U nd also because I believe that it is a mesh of a romance scammer to get in even more money. Because two weeks later he asked me again for money. This time it was around 5,000 € for further important investigations. And another three weeks for € 3,000.
This time money that you have never seen again?
Marion: Exactly. After I sent the last $ 3,000, James told me that he’ll repay the money immediately when he’s back in America. That should be about five weeks later. But in time he asked me again for money. Everything just seemed to be about money. And then I told him that I could not send anything anymore because I do not have it anymore. Trigger for him to end his game because since the day he did not call me anymore. He blocked my calls and WhatsApp messages.From then on I knew that I had made a big mistake and probably got cheated. I then told a friend with a heavy heart of the cash payments and she just touched her head and told me that I must have fallen for a romance scammer. I had never heard of it before and was shocked when I read all the information about it. Because I found myself in it all again.
How did you feel when you realized that you were being lied to and betrayed by a romance scammer?
Marion: It hurts when love is used as a means. When loneliness and hope for a common future is used to steal a person’s money. It’s like a double fraud: material and mental. One doubts the fellow human being and one also doubts about oneself and asks himself the question: “how could only something like that happen to me?”. The answer is simple, because you are powerless against feelings. At that time I was too cowardly to go to the police because I was ashamed that it had hit me. Today I would do it differently and report the case to protect other women as well.