When Things Don’t Quite Add Up – a real-life romance scam revealed, part 4

If you’ve been following the past series of articles, you’ll know that in my early green and heady days, I got sucked in by a romance scammer. See part 1, part 2 and part 3 of how that went down, and how I sussed him out.

During the next few days we moved beyond the bump in our budding relationship and Richard raised the topic, again, of visiting me in Australia. Now that I had a broader context, I was all for it.

He explained that he’d stay nearby and didn’t expect me to be available every day. It was a torturous wait to hear him confirm that he’d booked plane tickets.

He’d mentioned several times that he planned to do it, but he’d been so busy at work and needed to figure out timing with the business and three-year-old Vincent. His son would be staying home with his nanny for this trip. But if all went well, within two months they’d both be back!

This type of ‘blue sky’ talk did register more alarm bells, but they were muted because I wanted to fall in love with him. I was already half way there.

I adored the way he looked and I liked his personality – his directness combined with what I perceived as a certain naivety, mixed with an other-worldliness that came from growing up as a European in a third-world country.

But I was growing tired of waiting for the promised ticket booking confirmation. My doubts were still there, waiting to be discussed face to face. I hadn’t completely lost my mind!

Saturday morning his time, he announced that he’d forgotten about an engagement party that evening. He’d be busy all day getting haircuts, suits and making preparations. Later he sent me a photo of he and Vincent all suited up. Adorable! At the sight of them both, my heart swelled. “Your handsome boys,” he signed it.

I’d packaged up some picture books for Vincent because I was appalled to hear that he didn’t have a single one at home. I had no idea whether this was normal in his part of Africa, especially since his dad co-ran the charity, Room to Read. I asked about posting the books and he gave me their address.

“U ar so thoughtful. Im in love with you bby. Uve become an addiction to me. I miss you when we don’t chat…god help me.”

That night while I slept, my mind churned over the intricacies of it all. I didn’t want a third son – especially a preschooler. I didn’t want a live-in partner. I didn’t think he’d be keen on polyamory, which was still my goal. It did not sit well with me that we hadn’t even discussed my wants and needs. He’d asked me about my long-term plans, but he’d just assumed that because I’d responded to his request on Oasis all those weeks ago, that I’d agreed to the full deal.

I reconciled that we’d have these discussions in person, that we’d have hours and hours to talk about the details like normal people. But I also decided that I just couldn’t live on tenterhooks any more. I would tell him that I needed a break from the daily intensity until he’d booked the tickets.

I woke before six in the morning as my sleeping brain anticipated Richard’s message. “We’ve just got home from the party,” he texted. “I thought of you all night. You have no idea wat you do to me. Look in your email – you will love it!”

Attached was a stunning photograph of him in his handsome grey suit on the dancefloor, Vincent watching on. Eagerly, I opened my email.

To be continued…

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