My aunt has fallen in love with a scammer | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

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Dear Pay Dirt,

My Aunt Minnie is 72 and has fallen in love with a scammer. She understands very little about technology. She joined a Facebook group for fans of a certain performer and met “Jack,” a supposed 50-year-old European millionaire who swept her off her feet. Jack and Minnie have never talked over the phone, but they message each other every day. Jack has asked Minnie for gift cards and money, providing flimsy excuses about why he needs the money. For example, he said he’s in a nasty custody battle with his ex and therefore didn’t have the money to start a new business venture, can’t fly to see her because of the divorce proceedings, etc.

When Minnie told me about him I immediately showed her articles about scam artists and catfishing. I explained to her what was happening. However, Minnie got in touch again with this man again. I talked to her again and convinced her to stop contact with him, but she texted him two days later. It’s a merry-go-round.

Minnie told me that she is lonely, but she refuses to date men her age. She basically wants a hot 50-year-old boyfriend. I fear she is going to give this man her life savings. I’ve tried to show her many times why this man is a scammer, with articles from reputable sources but it doesn’t stick. Do you think there’s another way to reason with her? I can’t legally do anything to stop her from contacting him and I’m hoping there’s a way to reason with her that works better than what I’ve tried so far because all the explanations about catfishing and how technology allows people to hide their identity haven’t worked.

—Desperate Niece

Dear Desperate Niece, 

Poor Aunt Minnie—she’s in a real-life episode of Catfish. I reached out to Darius Kingsley,
managing director, head of consumer business practices at JPMorgan Chase & Co, to see what you can try to help her see the light.

First, you are right to be raising alarms and following your gut. Romance scammers will spin all sorts of stories to pull at heartstrings, even ridiculous ones about being a millionaire who lost access to his fortune and is down on his luck. “Jack” may also be pressuring Aunt Minnie into believing that you or anyone else trying to stop her is “being paranoid.”

“When romance scammers sense discomfort, they make you believe you are paranoid and imagining things,” Kingsley said. “The reality is that it’s most likely them making you uncomfortable.”

It will be hard, but you might have a better chance with Minnie by suggesting she push for a video call between her and Jack so that you can meet him. Ask to see pictures of him and when she plans to meet him. Offer to help plan the trip so that you can see more information about Jack without her being defensive. These are all subtle ways to identify Jack as a scammer; if he stalls, Minnie may start questioning his reasoning.

“Online dating has become increasingly popular, but it never hurts to do your due diligence and verify the person on the other end of the conversation,” Kingsley says, especially when exchanging money. Hopefully, by approaching the situation with curiosity, Minnie can realize what’s going on without you having to resort to phoning Nev.

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Dear Pay Dirt,

It’s the new year and my new year’s resolution is to finally set a budget! For context, I’m 27 and have somehow made it this far without truly tracking my expenses. Is there a best way to get started so I’m not overwhelmed? I generally spend about $400-$500 on my credit card (groceries, fun things, eating out, etc.) bi-weekly and just pay it off right then and there. But I feel like that’s not enough and should be more granular about it. Is it enough—or does getting into the specifics help? My goal this year is to save a bit more, without cutting out all the fun stuff!

—New Year New Me

Dear New Year New Me, 

I’m excited for you! The good news is that by budgeting, you will be able to save more and may actually have more to spend on the fun stuff.

There are four different budgeting methods you can try out: zero-based, the 50-30-20 method, cash envelopes, and the pay-yourself-first method. I think with your current setup, the pay-yourself-first method would be a good fit for you. This budgeting method requires you to dedicate a percentage of your budget to your financial goals first, and then spend the rest. Say you want to save 10 percent of your income and get paid $1,500 bi-weekly. You could set up an automatic transfer of $150 for each paycheck and then spend the remainder on your living expenses. You can change the percentages as often as you like and continue to charge your variable expenses to your card, as you’ve been doing, and then pay them off.

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Dear Pay Dirt,

I had a disability that kept me from being able to have a solid work history at all or attend college. I was able to cure it (long story!) and not be on disability anymore. But I am now in my late 30s and working miserable retail with bad pay and worse hours since I have no degree and my resume is laughable. I burned through almost all of my savings while trying to get literally any job. Is it even worth going back to college at this point in life? Would anyone hire someone in their 40s with a fresh undergraduate degree and a work history that looks like a joke? How would I even be able to explain the massive gaps without giving enough medical history to make every hiring manager run screaming? I want a better life for myself but I don’t know if that’s even something I can hope for.

—No Longer Disabled

Dear No Longer Disabled, 

I’m really happy to hear that you were able to work on your health. Pat yourself on the back because, as someone who is chronically ill, I know firsthand that it can be tough. I consulted Corissa Peterson, a certified professional resume writer and career expert at Resume Genius, to get some insight on how to brush up your resume so you can get your career moving.

“People with disabilities face significant barriers to employment—from transportation complications and lack of workplace accessibility to the reluctance of employers to hire them,” Peterson said. The issue with this is that with a sporadic work history and employers not knowing the whole story, it can seem like a worker is inconsistent. So, in this case, it can help to move away from a chronological resume layout and try something less traditional like a functional (or skills-based) one instead.

A functional (or skills-based) resume highlights an employee’s skills that can be transferable to any job, including those outside retail. Using this format, you can replace your professional experience section with a large skills section. You can also highlight achievements from previous roles or experiences. This type of resume can help employers see that while you might not have direct experience in a specific role, you still have the skills they require and want. “For example, if you’re applying for a customer service representative position, you can include ‘Customer Service’ as a skill, and create a bulleted list of various experiences and accomplishments that demonstrate your customer service skills,” Peterson said.

Another option that may appeal to employers is a combination resume. This format combines a skills section along with a professional experience one. “[By] using these two formats, you can shift attention away from a varied work history and keep the focus on what makes you qualified for the position,” Peterson said.

Now, about school. I advocate for attending higher education, and so does Peterson if you have a clear career goal. For instance, if you know you want to go into medicine, that will require some sort of degree. But if you aren’t clear on what exactly you want to do in medicine, it may make more sense to research trade programs and other certifications that don’t require a lot of time or money. This can help you excel in the workforce faster. Good luck!


Classic Prudie

I have a huge crush on my therapist, and I’m terrified that if I tell her, she won’t be comfortable being my therapist anymore. The crush has gotten so intense that I get very nervous in the hours leading up to our appointments. Also, I think my fear that telling her would make her uncomfortable being my therapist is part of something larger.

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