When Things Don’t Quite Add Up – a real-life romance scam revealed, part 5

In my early green and heady days of giving online dating a red hot go, I was catfished and then caught in the hooks of this charming young man, Richard. If you’ve been following the past series of articles, you’ll have learned tricks of the romance scamming trade, which I researched long after the events in this tale. I’m not proud to have been sucked in by a romance scammer, but you’d be surprised how common it is. See part 1, part 2 and part 3 of how it unfolded, and stay tuned for the story of how I sussed him out.

I’d woken early that Sunday morning, my time in Australia, to find Richard’s photo on whats app of he and his son, Vincent dolled up in soft grey suits complete with matching pink handkerchiefs and short haircuts. Richard looked more swoonworthy than ever, youthful with smooth white skin, dark hair and eyes plus a lithe body, especially in the dance floor pic from the party the night before. He wasn’t a big man, maybe average height for a European. He reminded me a bit of a young Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode, a favourite band from my new-wave years.

Richard’s message said, “We’ve just got home, it’s very late. I thought of you all night. You have no idea wat you do to me. Look in your email – you will love it!”

Hastily I opened my email account on my laptop.

Years from now our past will be a story of long days and lonely nights,hard work and lack of sleep.We’ll live each day having intimately known the pain of being apart,we’ll appreciate and embrace our time together,knowing how lucky we are to have made it together,knowing how lucky we are to have made it through,and we’ll find solace in the promise of a future together.

I came back from the party more determined than ever to make sure that we are together sooner rather than later my love..I don’t want to see pictures or videos of you anymore,its simply not enough.I want to see you,to touch you and to feel you. You will find the plane tickets i have just purchased and all the flight details on the screenshots i have attached to this email.

I cant wait to finally meet you my love. Richard 

Attached to the email were the two screenshots.

I held my breath and carefully examined the ticket receipts, the dates and times of flights into my city and out of Johannesburg. I checked the flight details with Qantas.

I thought, immediately, of the logistics, just call me that kind of woman! Could I take the week off work so I could spend eight glorious days with him?

Later, I breathlessly talked with the two friends I’d confided this whole tumultuous journey to. They’d listened to me wondering what was happening, whether there really could be a happily ended story of a guy from Africa meeting an Aussie girl online. They were cautiously pleased and, like me, slightly stunned. I emailed Richard my thoughts and opened my heart just that bit wider. Hope was definitely blossoming.

Talk of plans and the future and of our growing feelings for each other bloomed between us for three more days and nights. I was bursting to share my news with other friends, but I restrained myself and patiently waited for the end of the month – a whole twenty-seven days away – when he’d arrive in my city.

His positivity gave me courage and strength. I felt Richard supporting me vicariously from Botswana and every day he made me smile.

And then, just as I was getting ready for the first work and school day of the week, I received a message from him.

To be continued…

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