It was back on August 21, 2019, when it all started. I was going through a breakup and was so heartbroken when my ex-boyfriend, whom I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with, broke up with me and left me for another girl. Part of letting go of my ex was going through my Instagram messages and removing them one by one. I again came across this handsome man’s message that I ignored a few months back since I was still in a relationship back then. I remember receiving a simple “Hi” from this man and I went to view his profile and saw handsome photos of him and quotes about life. I remember thinking that he is too good to be true and probably just a fake profile. But during this time that I was sad and lonely, I was the one who messaged him again, and I said, “Hello,” and it all started from there. I was back home in the Philippines when I started talking to this man who introduced himself as Jeffrey from Birmingham, Alabama. He said he works as a private investigator for six years and was recently promoted to the Drugs and Child Trafficking Department. He has a really good physique that matches his job description. Very muscular, short-haired and really handsome. He said he lost his parents when he was 14 years old and had to move in with his grandma. Along with these claims are photos of him wearing business attire and photos with his grandma. I thought I must have been lucky that I caught this man’s attention. I was thinking he was “the one” and the reason why my ex did not stay. I thought he was my answered prayers, as I prayed to God to give me someone older than me and more mature, and there you go, a handsome 30-year-old man with a stable job. Our conversations started with him asking my insights about love and life. He made an image of him being faithful to God, romantic, sweet, and a gentleman. I can’t remember a day where he was mad or disrespectful to me. He was always polite and understanding. He was very loving and made jokes here and there. I was so amazed at how he just gets me. My day-to-day stories, my plans for my future, and just about everything. I remember even thinking that this is too good to be true as he would confess his love to me all the time, and would send long love messages. I am a 24-year-old girl who is not new to the internet, but I never once dated through the web. I am good at researching and using the internet. I know that I am smart and would not fall for this scams although back then I was not aware how common romance scams are. I had not heard of it specifically in detail, but I know that a stranger can ask for money, and that is for sure a scam. But back then, my mind, soul, and heart had been so into this man already that I fell for his bad intentions towards me. I remember searching for his photos and letters if it was copied and pasted from the internet but I never saw any. It must have been because I was using just my phone to look for information. I did not find any single photo of him using websites using reverse image search. I did not find not a single letter he sent me. I concluded he was real and I stopped researching. I let myself fall in love with him and the hope that we would be together someday. After a month, I came back to the U.S. and immediately the day I came back, he asked for a $100 Amazon gift card. This raised red flags for me, but for some reason, I still got him that gift card. I have the feeling and intuition that this is very wrong and I should shut him down but I was thinking, why would he be after just my money if we have been talking for a month now? I gave him the benefit of the doubt, went to the store and got him that first gift card. I told my Aunt who knows about “us” that he asked for it, but I told her, maybe he is just testing me to see if I will help him through the good and the bad times. As Jeffrey was saying, he believes in helping each other in relationships. He even promised me he would help me get my Master’s Degree. While I was still in the Philippines, he told me he has a meeting to attend for a contract. When I came back, he told me he has to go to Durango, Mexico to work on getting the contract that will allow him to open up his own Investigation Firm. After a week, he had to fly from Mexico to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Please take note that all this time, Jeffrey was constantly sending me photos of him and his way of texting is so professional that I believed he was really going for a business trip. After being in Abu Dhabi for two days, he said his bank account got locked out due to transactions from different locations and he cannot access his money. He said he needed $15,000 for the contract to be secured and that it was his dream but then unfortunate things happened. He said his friends helped him for some of it already but he still needs the rest of the funds. His story did not happen overnight. We have been talking for a total of four months, and there are days where he isn’t talking about money but was talking about our relationship and how we will get married and have kids. It felt real and the conversations are loving and fun. I thought that his endeavor in Abu Dhabi was something we will have to go through as a couple. I supported him for his bills, food and as well as I took out a loan for him and maxed out all my credit cards to fulfill that $15,000 he needed for his contract. Totally I sent him $13,700. I sent all my savings, maxed out my credit cards, and took a loan for him. I was left broke, in debt and my credit score suffered as I had many loan inquiries. This smart girl, I thought of myself, did what I never thought I would do. I lied multiple times to MoneyGram so that they would push through my money transfer to Abu Dhabi. The money I sent even was not under his name but to somebody else’s which he said were the ones handling his contract. I sent money to three different names and when I was unsuccessful, he said he found a way for me to send it and being naive as I was back then, I was even making jokes with him as to why we only realized I could send over the money through gift cards instead. And there I was, sending thousands of gift cards to this person I even haven’t spoken through the phone. He kept promising he will come home soon but he never came back. There was always something that came up like a car accident, stomach ache, hospitalized and the need for more money for the contract. I was suspicious, but I was already madly in love and connected with this man that I did not want to listen to what my mind was already telling me. I brought up to him that he might be a scammer, but he was too good at words that he was able to turn me back to him. When I had enough exhaustion from working two jobs day and night to support this man, I went on the computer and did my research and there you go, I found the real person who owns the photos. I also found the videos he used on the short video calls we had and it turned out it also was fake stream through hangouts. The love letters were also copied and paste from the internet and the initial conversations I had with him are part of the romance scam script I found on Google. I am left heartbroken, broke, in debt and with a poor credit score. On the bright side, I learned a lot from this experience and I came out stronger.

I hope this never happens to anyone else.