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…

Romance scams – resources and stories

In the past series of posts, (see first, second, third and fourth), I’ve explored the seedy topic of romance scams and how scammers operate. I’ll tell my own story of poor choices and being sucked into the quagmire of a scammer’s lies next time, but for now, if you want to know where to read more, look below.

If you want to read more about being targeted or victim’s stories

Romance scam victim pic
Image courtesy of Forbes.com

Author, Sofija Stefanovic, investigates the topic of scamming and support groups, as well as the moving individual stories behind the scams in her book You’re Just Too Good To Be True. The tragic story of Bill was infinitely sad:

“Bill, like millions of other people around the world, joined an online dating site and met someone. After a while, his long-distance lover asked Bill for a small amount of money. This wasn’t a big deal: friends ask each other for loans all the time – credit cards expire, bills get too high, rent is increased. Bill, a generous person, sent the small sum through without raising an eyebrow.

“Then his significant other needed some more money. The situation escalated, and, over several years, Bill became involved in a horrific tale of love, death and crime, all the while sending money to a growing cast of characters. When he began to suspect he was being conned, Bill was contacted by police, who assured him they were about to catch the scammers (they were, in fact, scammers themselves). A manager at Barclays bank was holding onto the money Bill was owed (also a scammer).

“Bill had lost all of his savings, mortgaged his flat and borrowed money from friends. He was sending his pension away as soon as he got it, in the wild hope that he would, one day, get his money back. He was scammed out of more than $80,000. It left him an emotional wreck, and drowning in debt.

“Bill was eighty years old. He’d been a participant in scams for much of his life. A self-described ‘gay person looking for companionship,’ Bill attracted bullying young men who soon demanded vast sums of money from their ‘silver daddy’.

LinkedIn scams – see:

Online dating romance scams – see:

If you have something to add to this topic, please share your story or opinions in the comments or via my personal contact form.

And remember, never send money to someone you have never met.