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…

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…