Scam artists and fraudsters are getting more and more elaborate with their scams. I found the online dating world to be no different. Shocking huh!
I received messages and emails from three different scammers and have used the conversations in book two and book three of The Game of 51: Confessions of an Online Dater series.
The first thing that struck me was how similar all three were. They all had some huge tragedy in their lives, parents died, wife died, kid died, that kind of thing. Two were claiming to be US soldiers posted in foreign parts of the world, one in Syria and one in Kenya. The third was a business man who was currently in Nigeria.
Nigeria is synonymous with online scams, specifically the Inheritance scam, otherwise known as 419. Sure enough it didn't take long before he sent me a request to help him with a huge inheritance that needed to be deposited in a foreign account for one reason or another. I didn't read to far into the details, I just replied with a good solid, GO TO HELL, response.
One was really elaborate. First I got the message and request to email me more about him and some pics. I got some great candid shots of a handsome middle aged white male and a nice email about how he was looking for someone special to share his life with.
We video skyped and IMed for about a week, but during that time things were not adding up.
First, when we video skyped there was no audio only IMing. I guess that is to keep me from finding out about a certain accent he would have. Not a red flag, but one thing to keep in mind.
Secondly, he tells me he's a US soldier deployed for peace keeping missions in Syria. Plausible right, but he couldn't answer a direct question about what it was like in Syria. I'm asking about the weather, what the people are going through, buildings etc. At one point I asked him what was going on there and he took forever to get back to me and when he did, it was with a news headline answer. "Syrian airstrike kills 21 in Aleppo." Then proceeded to tell me that's where they will be patrolling. Red Flag here.
Third, at one point he tells me what is important in life is sharing it with a comrade. I don't know any American, let alone a soldier would call someone a comrade. Red Flag.
Fourth, his wife and son died in a car accident on the way home from church. As with all these scams there has been some horrific loss. He doesn't want to talk about it though, that's fine, moved on with life etc. Possible Red Flag.
Fifth, he had a daughter who was living at school in Canada for the last two years and he hasn't seen her because he's been on a peacekeeping mission in Syria. I looked into the cost of boarding schools in Canada and we're talking $50,000.00 CND for the year. I'm not exactly sure how much a US soldier makes, maybe he could afford that. Possible Red Flag.
Sixth, he sent me a photo of his daughter who is seventeen and needs a mother. Ah no she doesn't, she's been on her own for two years and she's seventeen the last thing she wants is a mother. That aside the photo was a stock photo. Red Flag.
Seventh, the emails he sent basically repeated the same thing over and over, how wonderfully romantic I am. How much he believes me to be his soul mate, and he's only talking to me. Some paragraphs were cut and pasted from previous emails and the way they were written didn't match the way he wrote in IMs. Red Flag.
Eighth, his IMs just basically said the same thing over and over. General, vague, and filled with promises for the future. He'd ask me questions as he could about my financial situation, my family, my friends, who I talked to, etc. Basically collecting data to see how much of a mark I was. Red Flag.
Ninth, his IMs were inconsistent. It was as if I was talking to two or three different people. Just from the wording, tone, and personality of the conversations. So either there were more than one, or the guy had some major personality splits. Red Flag.
Tenth, he slipped up. When I asked him what time it was there he said 10PM when I googled what time it was in Syria it was 8PM, it was 10PM in Russia. Then he told me how much he was looking forward to having a special woman to share his life with him and his son. His son was dead, his daughter was supposedly living at some boarding school in Eastern Canada. I'm not sure how many parents would mix their dead son up with their daughter. It might have been an innocent slip, but I was done learning as much as I could about how this scammer worked. Red Flag.
Whether it's online dating or dating in the real world, you have to be careful. You have to constantly ask questions, keep track and make sure you can sort out the lies from the truth. The great thing about online IMs is that you can go back reread and see where they are lying and call them out. Always ask questions, is it really as believable as it sounds? Do your own research on the topics they are talking about and ask lots of specific questions.
Do you have an online dating scam stories you'd like to share? Email them to me -- your identity and details will be confidential and the story rewritten so that you stay anonymous. thegameof51 at gmail.com.