On 2/20/2020, I received a message on Instagram from Maxwell Cyprian that said hello. I wrote back and said hello, but I told him I didn’t know who he was. He apologized for messaging me, and I said that it was okay. So we continued to text for a day or so, and then he asked me to switch over to WhatsApp. I have never messaged with a stranger, so this felt really strange. My 25th wedding anniversary had just passed, but I was feeling very out of sorts about my marriage overall and myself. I was very vulnerable. Maxwell told me he lived in Los Angeles, was born in Liverpool, England, but moved to LA when he was six after both his parents passed away, and his uncle raised him. He was a civil engineer, divorced and had a son who lived with his ex-wife and his best friend. His ex-wife cheated on him, married his best friend, and moved to Latvia with his son. This didn’t sound out of the ordinary, but one thing that stood out was that he couldn’t remember how old his son was. He said he thinks he is 17. I have a 21-year-old son who was studying to be an engineer. Maxwell asked me a lot of questions about myself, although he claimed he didn’t trust anyone and had no friends. Somehow I became his only friend. He is an only child, I have four siblings, and he said how lucky I was for that. I felt comfortable answering these questions because Maxwell and I are four years apart. And my husband is 20 years older than I am, so I have been struggling with how our age difference has kind of caught up to us. Maxwell always asked me to send him photos, and I would always say that he knows what I look like because he found me on Instagram. I would send the photos anyway because he always told me I was beautiful and he knew my marriage was in a rocky place. Somehow, in the course of a week and a half, I started developing feelings for him. We would text each other all day on WhatsApp when we were both working. I would get home and text him until I had to go to bed. He would always ask me to wake him up at 9 am my time, and 6 am his time, and I would. He was attentive, sweet, and loving. We shared similar faith. He asked if he could call me on the phone, and he did on March 8th. We talked for a good hour. The connection was really weird through the Whatsapp phone, but he told me that he had strong feelings for me and asked if I felt the same way, and I said I did. The next day, we did a Skype call that probably only lasted about 45 seconds. He kept saying it was my connection. The first time I heard his voice I was really surprised that he had an accent. I thought that someone who has lived in the US since he was six and is now 45 wouldn’t sound like they were still from Liverpool, England. But he didn’t sound like the Beatles. He was so good at excuses. He told me that Liverpool was still a big part of his life, and even though he lived in the US, he is British. A friend told me he sounded Nigerian when I let her hear a voice message he sent me.

But my heart was leading me very fast towards this person, and I was in love. There were some really big signs that this all couldn’t be true, but somehow, I moved passed them. He asked me how I felt about the President of the US. I told him that I am not a fan of our President, and Maxwell told me he would kill him for me if that is what I wanted. I immediately replied that just because I don’t like someone does not mean I wish them harm. And I would never wish anyone dead or ask anyone to kill someone for me. He tried to backpedal and finally said that God would not allow him to kill. It actually really scared me that he said this. This was a big sign, but still, I moved forward with him and our plans to be together. Some of the questions Maxwell asked me about my friends seemed strange. He reminded me all the time that friends can stab you in the back since his best friend stole his wife from him. I constantly told him that I have many acquaintances and three very good friends who would never hurt me. I know that he was trying to pull me away from them. He was very attentive regarding my son and even offered to help my son get a job at his engineering firm in LA after my son graduated from college. He asked me if I would ever come to LA. I live in CT, so Maxwell and I were making plans to be together, and if my son were going to move to LA, all 3 of us would be together. Maxwell said he was very religious, and his faith got him through his divorce, yet here he was involved with a married woman, and he wanted to give me a new life where I wouldn’t have to work, and he would take care of my son. I have never in my life asked anyone to take care of me. I am a very independent person and have always taken care of myself financially. Maxwell was scheduled to travel to Sydney Australia on March 14th for work. The pandemic was starting to shut down the US, including my job, and I was worried about him traveling. But he made it to Australia. We would be 15 hours apart, yet that didn’t stop me from texting him in the middle of the night. I would wake up at 3:30 am, 6:30 pm Australia time, and text with him until he needed to go to sleep. He was there for a week, but work would now be taking him to Istanbul, Turkey, and after that, he was going to come to meet me in Connecticut. I believed him. We had so many plans; he said he wanted to marry me. He kept asking for pictures of me, and he wanted me to send him pictures of me without clothes on. This made me so nervous, and he got mad when I refused. He told me I didn’t trust him and that if I really loved him, I should feel comfortable doing so. He was very good at convincing me, but then I also apologized when I didn’t do what he wanted. I did send him a picture of me just in a towel.

On Monday, March 23rd at 3:30 am, my phone buzzed, and it was Maxwell telling me to wake up because something had happened when he arrived in Istanbul. He asked to call me, and I said yes. He said he left his briefcase with his passport, license, and credit cards in the cab, and the cab is nowhere to be found. He was crying and kept hanging up on me, but then he would call back. After 2 hours of this, he asked me to wire him $2,000, and I agreed. I quietly went downstairs to get my laptop because my husband sleeps downstairs, and I got on Western Union. I could only send $1000 because of the limit on my card. I hovered over the send button and didn’t do it. Maxwell had his picker waiting at the other end (I have learned that this is the person who picks up the money for the scammer).

Maxwell was livid when there was no money waiting for the picker. He convinced me again to send him money; I said it could only be $1000. I didn’t send it again, and he went ballistic. He called me the devil in human form, he called me for a week begging for money, and then on 3/31, he stopped texting and calling me. All of April, I was in a fog. Not only was I not working, I told my husband what had happened, and I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was heartbroken, and I was searching for a ghost. Maxwell was gone out of my life, but my soul had been stolen.

I finally got through the month of April, and out of the blue, he texted me with a new number on 4/28 asking for money because he was still stranded in Istanbul. We texted back and forth, he still professed his love for me but told me I failed him and was still failing him because I left him to die. He stopped texting me again until 5/23. The same story still stuck in Istanbul. When I told him his company should help him, he said they were closed due to the pandemic. I had since called his company, and of course, they never heard of him. On June 5th, I was out for a walk, and Maxwell texted me again after not hearing from him. He asked for a picture, and I didn’t respond. He then said he is still stranded but sent me a picture of himself on a beach. When I got home, I did a google image search and actually found the real person whose photos he had been sending me since February. I questioned Maxwell about this on June 7th, and he again accused me of so many things. He told me I am a horrible person, and I left him to die, and he will never forgive me. He said he is done with me and I haven’t heard from him since. I was able to contact the real person whose pictures Maxwell has been using. He is a musician from Liverpool, England, who has had several scammers using his photos for these scams. He thanked me profusely for letting him know. He also hoped I didn’t lose any money. I told him I didn’t lose money, but I am still searching for my soul, and I will get it back and keep finding the strength to move on from this. It was strange to find the real person and know he is not really the person I was in love with, but I am glad I could help him and let him know his pictures were being used. My heart and soul will heal, and I will pick up the pieces and move on from this. Thank you for listening to my story.