Internet romance scams: ‘I realise I was being groomed’


Could you ever be tricked out of money by a stranger posing as a potential romantic partner?
On Thursday, we spoke to a Swedish woman who was tricked by a Nigerian man posing as a Dane seeking love.
Following that story, we received many emails from people saying they had been lured into similar traps. Here are some of their stories.
Susan, Hastings

“He phoned me and said he was short of $4,000”
I was scammed some two months ago by a Nigerian man posing as an American, from Boston, Massachusetts, calling himself Thomas Crane.
He sent me a friend request on Facebook, and I just accepted it, partly because I wasn’t used to Facebook and also he looked quite nice.
We very quickly started chatting on Facebook Messenger and he started phoning me. Looking back, I realise I was being groomed. I’m an intelligent woman, but he was clever enough to find a vulnerability in me as a divorced woman.
He got close to me quite quickly and sent me a whole series of photos of himself, all the way back to his childhood.
He said he was going to work on a multimillion-pound contract in Spain, and so would soon be in Europe.
Then he phoned me and said he was actually short of $4,000 – I was the only one who could help him out. I came within seconds of giving him the money, but then I told a friend and she brought me down to reality.
At that point I blocked him.
But then a week later he sent me an email saying he had told me some lies, but he really was Thomas Crane.
I unblocked him and started talking to him again. Why did I do that? I wanted to believe it was real, even though there was a voice in my head saying it can’t be true.
Then I decided to play him at his own game, which was dangerous, but exciting. I wanted to teach him a lesson so I kept in touch, but kept him hanging on – making excuses for not sending him money.
I was then out of the blue contacted by a Romanian lady on Facebook who saw the picture of “Thomas Crane” and said she too had been scammed by him.
At that point I stopped – I told him I knew he was a scammer, and stopped communicating.
I never heard from him again, but the whole experience traumatised me.

“Somehow I wanted to believe it was true”
I was scammed last year and I confess I completely lost my sense of reality to the elaborate web of deceit and lies.
I was in a peculiar place – married but looking for something else. I’m an artist, and was actively seeking a “muse”, and trawling various dating sites.
I got an email saying I had a match – and that’s when the trouble started.
After two or three days, the lady asked me to get instant messenger on Yahoo. From then on for a three-month period I was messaging her and emailing literally her all the time.
She said she was American, an ex-Playboy model and was now working in Saudi Arabia, doing deals on gems. Later she ended up in Nigeria.
How did I fall for all this? Somehow I wanted to believe it was true. And she supplied enough information that it was hard to prove her story completely untrue.
As soon as I started to get suspicious, she would act like a girlfriend I had treated badly, and lure me back in.
After a few weeks she said she needed help with this and the other. I was really cautious – I asked her what hotel she was in, Googled it and rang the reception. But they might have been in on it.
For three months this was the situation. I was checking facts but ultimately I wanted to believe the romantic fantasy.
Some two months after it started, she said she was having trouble with a deal in Nigeria and needed some money to help grease the wheel of the transaction – £300 or £400.
I did end up sending the money. But the whole thing stopped quickly after that as my wife warned me if I sent any more money there would be serious consequences.
The affair was incredibly harmful to my marriage but thankfully with faith and forgiveness we are now in a much better place.

Carol, London
“I feel such a fool – I really thought that this was something special”
Maybe I am another victim of scamming and have learnt a very expensive lesson – but I am not sure.
I have been writing to someone who I met online in August. We hadn’t met because he said he wanted to get to know me as a person before we met.
He said he had been awarded a civil engineering contract in South Africa worth £3.6m.
He was trying to buy a phone to take with him and the iPhone 7 was launched days before he left. He asked if I could get one for him and ship it over. He would pay me back when he got his first payment.
At the time everyone said that I should get the money from him first, but I felt he was genuine.
In the five weeks that he has been in South Africa he said that he’s hit some problems and needed to “borrow” some cash.
I had no doubt that this was genuine so I wired over £2,000.
We had discussed his return to the UK – I was going to be meeting him at Heathrow. He was often talking about buying a property near to me. We were planning our Christmas together.
Last week he hit me with the next crisis – that the job has been shut down and he needed to pay some taxes upfront, which worked out as £200,000. He asked if I could get a loan to go towards the payment of outstanding taxes.
My heart believed him, but in my head alarm bells kept ringing.
I was in the process of securing a £100,000 loan and then I saw the BBC article about scamming. There are a number of similarities and it has really scared me.
I’ve asked him to FaceTime me or send a current picture – he said he would but hasn’t.
I feel such a fool – I really thought that this was something special and I totally ignored everyone’s warnings.



One thought on “Internet romance scams: ‘I realise I was being groomed’

  1. Augusto de Arruda Botelho

    There is definately a great deal to find out about this topic.

    I really like all the points you made.

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