All’s fair in love – NOT!

My Facebook friends will know that I have recently gone back to dating. I’ve been running a series of “Dating Rant” posts describing some of the weirder people you meet on internet dating sites, which I may put up sometime; but THIS post is about a dangerous predator, and is by way of warning about what is clearly a slick and well-researched routine. It horrified me how nearly I was taken in by this scam, even whilst recognising it as such, and I’d like to describe the pattern in the hope that it helps someone else to avoid it.

I won’t post pictures of the man involved, because I’m fairly sure that they were ripped off someone’s Facebook account or similar; actually, possibly two different men’s FB account. Pictures showed a vigorous man of the right sort of age, with two different but cute dogs in different photos. His name was clearly foreign. He said he worked in the construction industry, and I learn that only about half the UK’s construction firms have “About us” pages on their websites with pictures or descriptions of their staff. No google trail at all.

Now let me walk you through the ripoff routine… I do wonder what the next step would have been. I wasn’t prepared to play along enough to find out!

What he said What I heard What he meant
Hi, my name’s Jos, sorry for my poor English His name’s Jos Establish non-English speaker
I’m having problems using the site on my phone, and I really like your profile – would you mind if we moved to email? Someone else who hates the site’s clunky interface Let’s get off the site quickly before they catch me and throw me off
… a couple of emails down the line… I really like you. In fact, I think I’m falling in love with you. When can we meet? Well, it’s a bit soon to talk about love, but he sounds like a nice guy – I’d like to meet him too. Shame I can’t find him on google, but some people just don’t have a big net presence. Come on, little fishy… something really tasty wriggling on the hook…
Damn, I have unexpected visitors this weekend, and can’t meet up Damn, he has unexpected visitors this weekend, and can’t meet up This small disappointment will make you want to meet him more
Damn, work has sent me to Cape Town for a week Damn, work has sent him to Cape Town for a week Safely out of reach
My phone isn’t working properly, maybe it’s my data plan Communication is a problem overseas Next setup
Could you buy me a £10 Vodafone voucher so we can talk properly? He still wants to talk, even though he’s in a different country and really really busy! (But no, I’m not sending a penny to someone I haven’t met.) – I actually sent him instructions on buying his own voucher from an ATM in Cape Town. Small requests make larger requests later much easier to digest.
I’ve got wifi now, can we talk on WhatsApp? He’s on WhatsApp, great, I’ll ring him now. (Call rang out without a reply) Are you comfortably settled on that hook, little fishy? Thinking that maybe you’ve let him down somehow?
Work is developing problems, I’m going to be out here longer. I need to source a specialist crane to fix a problem on the roof. Damn, his work is developing problems, he’s going to be out there longer You really miss me, don’t you? And setup for the big ask.
Can you lend me the money to hire a crane? It would mean I’ll be home sooner, and I just need a loan until Friday. Yeah right. No. Bye! Come on, sucker… bite…

Looking back, I really am impressed – in a bad kind of way – by the sophistication of this scam. It preys on all the vulnerabilities you inevitably have, exposing yourself in the dating world. Throughout the carefully escalating process, there was always an innocent and an evil explanation for everything. He slipped up once; he fed those unexpected visitors a BBQ, allegedly – but the weather that weekend was worse than dire. It was at that point that I started to see that there was an alternative explanation for everything he was saying – but I was still sad when the half-expected request for money came through.

And yes, I am still dating; there are plenty of honourable, decent men out there who are neither weird nor predatory, and I still believe in love. I will, however, expect to meet them early in the conversation!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “All’s fair in love – NOT!

  1. Well at least you didn’t fall for it sweet.

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  2. You did a great synopsis but it’s not just one bad guy. The persona you connected with is but one of thousands in a Nigerian crime syndicate, of which there are hundreds. Dating scams are but one variant of their advance fee operation. Anything for sale or sought online is game. Puppies, cars, rentals, love.
    Never wire money to anyone (including relatives Ha.). Never buy phone or gift cards for anyone you haven’t known for years.
    These scammers are patient and often don’t ask for a penny until six months of doting affection has transpired.

    Like

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