By the end of July 2021, I got a divorce from my husband after a long, unhappy, loveless marriage. The divorce was not pretty, but I still had the courage to start dating, and on recommendation from my friend, I got myself a Tinder profile. Having been in a marriage for 19 years, I knew absolutely nothing about scammers or people wanting to cheat you out of money, so I went into this world with an open mind.
Mid-August 2021, I have matched with this gorgeous French man/American, and I really never believed that he would contact me, but he did – unfortunately because that was the beginning of my nightmare. I was, of course, very flattered by his approach because he was really, really good-looking and well-mannered, and I was blown away.
After a couple of days of chatting on Tinder, he suggested we move on to WhatsApp. I chatted with him constantly and soon talked to him 3-4 times a day, and I could not believe my luck (!!).
He told me he was an independent geologist and oil engineer working from his office in Paris. Shortly after we began chatting, he sent me daily love letters by e-mail, and after a couple of weeks, we skyped for the first time, and OMG, I fell instantly in love because he was so gorgeous and sweet. He was the divorced father of a five-year-old daughter. He had divorced his wife due to adultery and no longer had any friends in France, only a friend in Australia.
He said he would come to Denmark to meet me as soon as possible; however, he had this mining project in South Africa that he was leading, which had been kept on hold due to Covid-19. Supposedly, it would take him around two weeks to finish the project, and he would then come to Denmark for a month, and we would discuss our future together. He even got his “mother” to call me and write me e-mails too!
Beginning September, he, supposedly, went to South Africa. He had bought extra internet access for the journey to stay in touch with me. Romantic, right? He told me that he was picked up by a South African driver who had driven for him before when he was in South Africa in 2019. He told me how expensive it is to get workers, and at a point, a machine broke down, and the repair was very expensive, but still, he asked me for no money but is sweet, loving, and caring, every single day (!).
On September 12, he shocked me by proposing to me in a very romantic e-mail; of course, he will make the proposal properly when arriving in Denmark. As I am already deeply tangled in his web, I foolishly accept. Only two days later, he “gets into trouble” when he cannot have some chemicals released to finish the job in the mine. Due to massive amounts paid out for workers and repair of the machine, he does not have sufficient funds to cover the taxes. Apparently, his Australian friend has granted him some of the money, and he asked me for the rest, which was 4,000 EUR. I don’t have 4,000 EUR, but I stupidly ask my daughter to help, which she does, and an evil spiral begins. A few days later, some documents for approving the project must be paid, then later, some tubes need to be replaced until the project is apparently approved, and he can get his money of USD 14 million.
Beginning of October, he goes to the South African Ministery of Work to get his payment for the project but is told that he can only get 3 of the 14 million due to Covid-19. He asks to send the money to me, as he owes a lot in France, and I agree. I received an e-mail from a South African bank that the money was on the way to my account, and I was thrilled because it meant he would come soon to see me. Not! Because I received a document from an organ in London, the UK stating that a huge fee must be paid to issue a “Final release order” in the amount of EUR 18,500. I tell him I cannot get that sort of money, and apparently, he decides to borrow money from loan sharks in Johannesburg. I try to suggest different solutions to help him, i.e., sell his car in France, sell an expensive watch that he claims to have, but he rejects everything, he says that no one but him can get access to his house!
Close to Christmas, we had the idea in common that he perhaps could leave South Africa quietly (due to the loan sharks, who were at his throat), go to France, collect his valuables, pay off the loan sharks and get his money released. I should then come to Paris and spend Christmas with him, his daughter, and his mother. However, before leaving the hotel, he had to pay the bill, and I agreed to do that by taking up yet another online loan with insane interests. He sends me a photo of his flight ticket but asks me to wait with my flight booking until he is safely back in Paris.
“Unfortunately,” he is arrested at the airport under dramatic circumstances because the loan sharks apparently had found out he was leaving South Africa. I tell him that the only thing he can do now is to contact his embassy, which he supposedly does, and gets refuge there. Do I have to say, my Christmas was absolutely destroyed, and I could not stop crying. Shortly after New Year, I managed to get the final money for the document, and everything seemed fine until I got the message from the London office that an “Anti-terror” document was needed. This document was also extremely expensive. We had a lot of arguments because I had slowly begun to get back to my senses and had searched the internet for information about these types of documents, and everywhere I looked, it said “fraud.” Furthermore, he needs 1,000 USD to extend his visa. He was furious that I did not trust him; he was never nasty to me; more in a hurt way.
For some reason, I then decide that “enough is enough” by the end of January 2022. Towards him, I remain as if nothing has changed but let him understand that I cannot help him with any money until I sell the house I still own with my ex-husband. The calls got fewer, and he did not want to Skype anymore; he now only chated once or twice a day.
I asked the Danish embassy in South Africa if they knew of the existence of an Anti-Terror Certificate. They never heard about it. Furthermore, they tell me that it is very unlikely that an Embassy will let one of their citizens stay because they have financial issues. They also said a price for a visa would never be issued in USD but the local South African currency. I also discovered that the e-mails sent to me by him and his mother came from the same IP address. I contact the French embassy in Pretoria to know if they have an Olivier Macron staying there. Obviously, they didn’t. I tried to contact the South African embassy in Copenhagen to have the authenticity of the documents confirmed, but I never heard back from them. I also reported the whole matter to the Danish police and asked a Danish tabloid if they wanted to write my story, a Danish version of the Tinder swindler. Not to get 15 minutes of fame, but to warn other women about these scammers. I didn’t hear anything from the police or the tabloid for a couple of months.
April, the police then told me they have no resources to investigate the matter, not until another 6-12 months. Almost the same time, a journalist from the Danish tabloid contacted me. He wanted to write my story. I was reluctant about the idea because of my family and my job, but on the other hand, I thought the story was too important not to be told, so I sent the journalist photos, WhatsApp messages, etc., and he was trying to find out, who the guy is. I still think the guy is who he says he is because I skyped with him, right? A few hours later, the journalist gets to me and says that the man in the photos is an American author and online marketing celebrity. At first, I believed the journalist had just found a man who resembled my scammer, but no! I went to the author’s FB page and discovered that it WAS my scammer, not only with photos but also videos. I even found some of the photos which were sent to me! The first idea that popped into my head when I saw this guy with his wife and children was, OMG, that woman has stolen my man and my life! I was in total shock for the rest of the day and had a hard time sleeping. I did not reveal anything to my scammer, though, just yet. I even talked to him for 15 minutes after I knew he was not, who he said, he was. A very awkward feeling. So familiar and at the same time so estranged and disgusting!
Together with the journalist, I plan to expose the scammer and let him know that I know that he has used a false identity. I told the scammer that my ex-husband and I had sold the house, I had come into money, and that he could finally get out of South Africa. However, we need to discuss this face to face, so I ask him to Skype with me at a particular time, and he agrees. He did not know that a photographer would document my conversation with him. I managed to get through to him, but as usual, the connection was very “bad.” Still, the photographer and I can see that the scammer uses a video with the American author. When I asked him if he knew that author and asked if he was fake – he got very angry and said he was disappointed in me and that I had destroyed everything. He then broke off the connection but kept denying it on text messages. I then sent him a picture of the author’s Facebook page and told him if he could explain, I would send him the money. I don’t hear from him again.