Well, I am new to this group and appreciate being allowed to join as one of a handful of men.
Reading all of the terrible situations so many women have been put in really saddens and angers me, yet it is strangely comforting that I am not alone.
I tried to be brief (though there are many details), I have wanted to share this story with anyone who would understand for quite some time.
My scamming nightmare began in November 2019 on LinkedIn. I wasn’t looking for a relationship because I went through a brutal divorce in 2016. Afterward, I got a new job, lost weight, started to eat and live healthier. My life was getting better.
I was invited to Linked-In by a scammer. Her profile indicated she was a Travel Nurse from Zurich, Switzerland. The scammer claimed she was a widow (40 yrs old), husband died seven years earlier. Her daughter was born after that, and she also had adopted a son. Her father had died eight months earlier from cancer.
I received over 300 pictures from her, 150 in the first two weeks alone. She was very attractive, appeared to have a number of friends, had an active lifestyle, and loved to travel. She had a sweet voice, with an accent that sounded like German (though it may have been Russian), and claimed she spoke English, French, and Roman’s Swiss language. She had a wonderful sense of humor. We laughed together, often. I felt comfortable talking on any subject with her. I could not believe how fortunate I was.
After about three weeks, she asked for $600 in gift cards and promised to pay me back. I foolishly sent her the card numbers. After that, the seemingly innocent flirting ramped up to the most intense sexually charged conversations I ever had. She professed her love for me, talked about the vacations we could go on, the school we could send the kids to, the home we would have, and that she would like me to father her next child. I was overwhelmed but felt that my life had taken an amazing turn for the better. I could retire before I was even 50. I was 47 at the time.
In Mid-January 2020, the scammer told me she was going to Dubai because her diamond broker father left her $24 million in diamonds stored in a secure vault. Then followed repeated requests for money for fees, taxes, and unpaid bills, to get the diamonds out of the vault. The scammer even made an appointment to have a video conference on Skype with me and the person who ran the vault to explained the fees to me. So, I interacted with another Scammer. I even received receipts in my name for payments made.
$200,000 dollars later, the diamonds are now out of the vault. She sells $600,000 worth of them, intending to cover all my debts and more.
I planned to tour the California coast with her in mid-March 2020. I even made hotel reservations. Unbelievably COVID 19 shuts down California, and the scammer gets a legitimate excuse to bail out of seeing me. Suddenly the possible became highly unlikely and improbable, so in a sense, COVID-19 benefited the scammers.
The scammer tells me she went to a shipping company to send the diamonds to my house in California. Along with the $600,000 she had placed in the case. I questioned that decision, which made no sense. Who sends $600,000 in cash to anyone? I checked out the shipping company (which had a fake website, which I didn’t realize until months later). I was even given a tracking number.
The scammer emailed my mother to thank her for raising the wonderful boyfriend she now has. My mom was thrilled. One of the worst days of my life was telling my mother she was a scammer. That was just cruel.
Sure enough, assorted customs fees, penalties, more taxes, etc., all required more money to get this shipment sent to the United States. I questioned these, and she sets up a video Skype call with two (fake) Customs officials to explain the laws to me, as I did not understand why we could not just retrieve the case with the cash in it to pay all the fees. I was told it was illegal by the two more scammers with which I interacted.
So, I paid those fees, and we should have been good to go. She planed to come to see me–then a Visa, passport issue, and more money was needed, which I sent as certified checks and transferred directly to third parties and later via Coinbase. Storage fees, additional penalties, etc., all piled up. By December of 2020, I was basically broke—my life savings gone, investments sold, old 401K gone, I refinanced my house to get money, bills went unpaid. There I sat– $400,000 gone, $155,000 in debt due to cash withdrawals from multiple credit cards, three personal loans, and I still have a mortgage to pay. Now I am working with a debt resolution company to avoid declaring bankruptcy, and this process could take at least five years, assuming creditors are willing to settle.
I finally did a reverse image search of the pictures she sent me. I found out the real name and location of the woman in the photographs and the children as well. They were in Arizona-not Switzerland. I confronted the scammer with this info (in Jan 2021), and she came up with another ridiculous story, and sent me a bunch of crying emojis, and told me she was “not a good person.” Again, she was trying to manipulate me (and it almost worked).
She told me she would reveal herself by video—the woman I spoke with and saw didn’t sound like her and knew nothing about me. She even asked me what the latest customs fees were—I guess I was transferred to another scammer (meaning at least five were involved).
She continued to contact me with ridiculous requests money requests until I told them to leave me alone, in a long text, March 21st. I have not heard from them since. I am now dealing with the emotional and financial fallout.
Due to a mistake on their part, I did find the actual name of one of the scammers, who appears to be based in Nigeria.
During all of this, it felt like a real relationship. I even learned French to talk in her language and filled my garden with her favorite flowers- Lilies.
I would say to anyone–please do not make the mistakes I did. If you fear that not giving someone money means they will leave you—that is not a healthy relationship—actually, that is NOT A RELATIONSHIP AT ALL. You are nothing more than a bank or financial transaction. These people have no moral compass, no awareness of cruel behavior. They are psychopaths. They turn your compassion, your desire to love and to be loved into a terrible weapon.
Thank you for reading this far. I just wanted to tell my story to help others and myself. Stay strong, everyone!