I grew up in a solid family; supportive parents and I currently live close to my entire family and am connected with them. However, I know I have lived a sheltered life, yet I am also aware of the evil out in the world. I am an observer of life. I grew up on the Internet so I am pretty Internet savvy. However, the story I am about to tell you has nothing to do with being savvy, but rather falling victim to a romance scam, it has to do with a “human being” that lied and deceived me.
In my opinion, romance scammers are psychopaths of the mind, they have no remorse for what they are doing and the damage they inflict on their victims. They have only one objective – they want your money. I was not lonely or desperate for a relationship, but I was ready to share my life with someone so I signed up to a dating site. I had been on it on and off for dating sites about a year or so. I had never met anyone in person. Everyone I did connect with ended up being flagged as being banned for suspicious behavior or more likely a scammer.
On August 8, 2017, a “gentleman” named Desmond B. (from here on out I will refer him to D, as I refuse to give him a name) had accepted my like, he was/is very attractive, strong facial features; something drew me to his profile. The same day we ‘connected’, he asked me to get off the dating site and message via email. My first mistake – never leave the dating site… and I knew it, but I so badly wanted to believe that some handsome man could be interested in getting to know me. I had even gone as far as to message the dating site to check and see if he was a scammer because all of my previous contacts with individuals were – and they confirmed my suspicions and told me from the get-go that he was, yet, I did not take heed and I continued to talk with him. I was already under his spell, I did not know it then, but I know it now that these people will put spells on their pictures to lure their victims and keep them going so that they will send money.
While we were getting to know each other I held him at a distance, I did not let him get too close (so I thought). I had mentioned that I wanted to meet him before he was scheduled to go off to work, as he was a captain for a company and was due to be at sea for 3 months. We chatted while he was ‘in town’; he mentioned a restaurant that was in town so I thought that maybe he was telling me the truth. I searched his name on Google and found someone close, but I had never paid to get the full report (even though I knew I should have, I wanted to believe him and take him for his word).
D was scheduled to leave that the following Friday from the time, we started talking (very convenient right). He was headed to Dubai and Turkey so the time difference was going to be different. I ended up staying up late waiting to hear from him before I went to sleep, every time I heard from him my heart would skip a beat. I was infatuated with the attention. I would often ask him questions and I had gotten to ‘know’ stuff about his life, he had a child, but the child’s mother was deceased from a car accident, and ‘D’s mother was taking care of his son for him. This person’s father was deceased but had a successful business to where he had houses in Florida, Texas, and Washington. D had recently moved to Oregon to start a new life and bought his new house in a local town, while his mom and son lived in Florida.
We had a great time chatting every day, talking about nothing in particular. When his ship was getting close to getting to port, he got this idea that we should get him an I-phone so we could communicate better, even though cell phones were ‘prohibited’ on the ‘ship’ in fear of pirates. He nagged me and eventually broke me down to where I sent money (via I-tunes card); he ‘promised’ me that he would pay me back. I told him I was very uncomfortable with it and yet for some reason I felt ‘obligated’. Some could say it could be because by this time, he was calling me his wife and we had talked about a future together. I was able to picture our lives together, he was promising so many things that I had never asked for yet he wanted to provide. I was also not sleeping much some nights. I was getting between 4-5 hours of sleep a night because I was talking to him, fighting with him over money and me not wanting to send him any. Yet in the end I gave in, I do not know why it is not as if he had a gun to my head or anything. However, I ended up sending him the money for the phone that he never received because of course the person that was smuggling the phone on board was caught and so that $400 was lost down the drain. We continued to chat some more and then all of a sudden his mom’s health was failing and he needed more money for her bills and I was pulled into helping pay for that. I had wired money to someone in Washington, but then they ended up wiring the money back for some reason (I do not recall). However, the money was still sent to him in I-tunes for something else.
‘D’ had scheduled to send me a parcel so that he could start up a business after his career as a captain (he shipped goods). I had a tracking number that I was able to track and all of a sudden, it got ‘stuck’ in customs in Turkey – ha-ha, at this point I just laughed out loud and I was blown away, yet I was still hooked and wanted him to be real. I looked all over shipping company’s website and it looked somewhat real, but there was something in me that said nope. The Turkish customs wanted $10,000 from me to get the parcel to be released because some tags were not put on the parcel when it left its original departure. I refused, I refused so much that the “shipping company” decided that they would ‘barter’ with me, they would pay half the bill and I would wire the other half to them ASAP. At this point, I was ‘yelling’ at ‘D’ (as much as you can yell at someone through email), I stopped communicating with the shipping company but I had still kept the tracking number to see what would happen (I had a feeling it would be used again, and I was correct). Low and behold I checked it a few weeks later and it had someone else’s information on it, some other guys information on it, so I waited until it was held up in customs and reached out to the victim on the page because they had listed the name, phone number and state the package was going to. I reached out to this person to try to help prevent her from falling victim. Well, I can only assume she told her scammer and that ended up making the company take precautions and remove any contact information from the website leaving just her name. This made me sad and irritated because once they were done with her there was another person that they did this too and I was not able to reach out to them as their phone number was no longer there.
Anyways, D found a different way to get the parcel back home, and now he needed money to get back home, he needed money to buy a plane ticket home. He was going to go through a travel agency he used. I was very hesitant and mad that he was asking. At one point he had me open an online bank account, he was trying to send money to me and said I could keep some and send the rest to him, it was coming from a person that owed him money. The bank took forever to process the transfer and eventually denied it; they ended up closing the account because I had violated their policy by giving him the password. Looking back, I am so grateful it did not happen because if I was able to get it and it did not clear I would have been responsible for it and could have gotten into more trouble.
One of his favorite sayings was “how are you going to raise the money?” As if it was my duty or job to raise money to get him home. He kept promising me he would pay me back, but I knew that if he didn’t, I needed a safety net if I was going to be liable for it because I needed to be able to pay for it. I had even put a lean on my car title – thankfully, the company only let me borrow a small amount since it was the first time I was borrowing from them, and I was able to buy it back in time with no penalty. I did end up opening up a credit card and ended up almost maxing it out, it makes me frustrated because at this point in my life, I had only one credit card that I was working towards paying that off and I still had to pay off my student loans. However, I did open a new credit card, and stupidly I told him what my max was. Sadly, I had taken out a cash advance on that credit card, which has a high-interest rate. With sending small amounts of money here and there, I ended up sending him $11,000 total. I truly thought he was going to come help pay it off. Now I need to come up with a different plan. I get mad from time to time thinking about what he did and how I got myself into this predicament. But knowing what I have learned and know how I was playing with fire and I got burned.
D was due to be ‘home’ on October 8th, 2017; I had requested to take the week off to spend time with him and set up arrangements for someone to watch my dog. Then the first week of October his ship was ‘attacked’ by pirates and some shipmates were killed. He was taken to his works ‘jail’ in Turkey because they suspected him of being the leak to the pirates. He was in ‘jail’. That entire weekend I was not able to eat anything, I was a wreck, but thankfully I told my boss that I was going to be able to work that week and kept busy. I am one that tends to push my emotions down, shove them to the corner and cover them up; I do not want to experience them. Anyways, once he was able to contact me is when he said he needed more money to get a lawyer and get him out of this trouble.
We had no communication for some days, which made it easier to disconnect from him. What I 100% know is I was taken for a fool and scammed. He had asked me to reach out to his “lawyer”, this man, the audacity, when I spoke with him he thought I was going to pay D’s attorney to get him to come home. He was rude and obnoxious. They wanted another $10,000 — ha-ha, yeah right. Though I did get to speak to him on the phone, he was supposedly in Texas and was on ‘retainer’ but was not ‘trained’ to really help him overseas. I am not really sure why he was on retainer to begin with (well I know why because it was not real). Anyways, from October to December, I had on and off communication with D, at this point, I had put my foot down, I was not going to give him any more money, and I was NOT going to be the middleman, there was no reason his friends and family could not help. He had a godfather that could help, but he kept saying that he was too old and that he did not want to bother him with any of his troubles.
The lies he told me: he told me he loved me, he told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. At some point, he came out and said that money was not an issue for him, eventually, he stated that he had a bank account in Switzerland, that had lots of money but he could not get to it. His current bank account was frozen for some reason, that even after his last job, which he should have been paid for his account, was frozen and could not get to it. He ended up trying to tell me he was a drug dealer. He even called me on the phone for literally a second, I could hear his Nigerian accent, and he said I sounded mad, all I said was hello then we were disconnected. When I mentioned it, he said he told me he grew up overseas, I was under the impression he grew up in Florida or Texas, but I guess I never asked. I did not really care because he is a scammer. It is funny to me because someone else that I had been talking to did mention they had grown up overseas, so my assumption is that one person was trying to work me through different profiles but was never successful because I caught on and cut communications with any and all of them.
I have stopped communicating with him and will no longer go on dating sites. My intent to share my story is to let others know it can happen to you. Please do not play with the fire! Put down your phone and go out where you will meet “real” people and make a lasting relationship.