Ladies, this is a true life story from a lady who had been in touch with HOPE Ministries in the past few years. Please let it be a warning to you. Following the article, there are some protective suggestions you might want to follow if involved in internet communication with someone you have never met!
I would like to share my story with you, in hopes to bring enlightenment on a growing problem I recently fell victim too. That is of internet romance scams targeting singles, and specifically Christian singles. Let me tell you a little about myself. My relationship of seventeen years fell apart three years ago. I have two beautiful girls who I am now raising alone. I am a strong, confident and prayerful woman of God. God has helped me through so much pain these past three years, and I am a stronger person because of my struggles today. I have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ and love Him so much. I trust in the Lord with all of my heart and soul. However, there is one thing I struggle with and that is loneliness. It is a weakness in my life that I can’t change right now. I have prayed very long and hard for God to fill this void in my life. I only ask God now to speak through my weakness to help you today.
My story started two months ago, one lonely night. I was exploring the internet and come across a website for apostolic singles. I was excited to see a website devoted to singles of apostolic faith. I found myself putting together a profile. I looked through some of the other profiles and found many people from the UPCI with profiles from across the country. I finished my profile and left the website not corresponding with anyone yet. I went into prayer and asked God to guide the right person to me. A couple days later, I had a response from a man of Italian decent who was living England and attended a UPCI church. He left his email and asked me to please respond to him if I would like to talk. I responded through email and we began a friendship. He was so nice. Our relationship grew very quickly; he seemed too good to be true. He was everything plus more I had been praying to God for. I was so happy, but still cautious given we had not meet in person yet. He told me right from the beginning he didn’t mind moving. He still hurt very much from his late wife’s death and was ready to start a new life some place new. I could understand that. We started having daily conversations through yahoo messenger. Within one month, he started telling me he felt I was the one and he praised God for leading me to him. I was feeling the same; the more we talked the more I became comfortable with him. We talked for hours each day; he made me laugh so much. Yes, I found myself thinking about him all the time; I couldn’t get him out of my mind. We would talk scripture together and he would pray for me and my children over the internet. I was hooked! We started talking of our life together; I believed He was the one I had been praying for. Let me tell you something at this point. There were red flags that started presenting themselves. I didn’t listen to them because I was entrapped with the way he made me feel. I was not lonely anymore. Not to mention I seemed to be growing spiritually through this whole time. Jesus started working out fear and bitterness that I didn’t realize was inside me. I felt free and had more joy in my life than ever. He would say the sweetest things to me. He knew how to prey on my weakness.
At this point we had to meet. I didn’t think I could live without him. The plan was to meet and if everything went well, he was going to move to my home town. He wanted to be with me no matter what. God had already told him I was the one and he just wanted me to feel as comfortable with him as he did me. We made plans for him to come during my vacation and we would attend camp meeting together this summer. About two weeks before our meeting, he had just finished a very sizable contract for his job but there was a problem. After expenses he wouldn’t have the money for the flight until his check cleared his bank three weeks later. He was not going to be able to make it during my vacation. My heart sank. I responded if this was meant to be, God would provide. His response to me was, “Honey, if you can lend me the money, I can book the flight and I can make it during your vacation”. My heart just fell in my stomach. Did he just ask me to borrow $1500.00? I didn’t know what to say, I felt sick. I did not give him the money.
After I told him no, I have not heard from him since. I couldn’t believe I had been scammed. I was left with a heavy heart and a hard lesson. Internet scamming is for real and people with lonely hearts are especially vulnerable. I am not a weak women but I fell hook, line and sinker. I did not give him money but there are many victims that are sending scammers thousands of dollars.
Long story short, Internet scamming is real! Never give anyone money you have not met in person and guard your heart. There is a lot of information available about romance scams online. Be informed if you’re going to do internet dating. I only tell my story to you in hope that you can see how easy it was to fall victim. I will give praise to God for protecting me through this, and I trust in Him. I will not give up on the vision God has given me and neither should you. Our weaknesses only make us stronger because Jesus can be glorified in them.
Some protective guidelines . . .
- REMEMBER…anyone can say ANYTHING on the internet. Just because they write it doesn’t mean it is true.
- NEVER get involved emotionally until you have screened the person, met them and had recommendation of their character and past.
- YOUR PASTOR IS YOUR FRIEND…Always keep your pastor in the loop in ANY relationship you are considering. Your pastor can contact their pastor to make sure the person is legit. DON’T just take their word for pastor contact. Have your pastor make sure their pastor is listed in the UPCI directory, or someone your pastor knows vouches that it is a legitimate pastor if perhaps he is an independent apostolic pastor. REMEMBER, the person on the internet can fabricate a pastor and phone number and lead you on!
- Always follow your pastor’s advice. God has given your pastor watch for your soul and will help him guide you in the right path.
- Sometimes when we pray just on our own, we may override God’s nudging because of our own longing or weakness.
- You need to have face to face time with a person to find out what they really are. Writing is fun and nice contact, but it doesn’t give a true picture of the person’s character, actions, attitude, etc.
- You can’t be too careful. Get lots of counsel and involve others in your decision making. Especially involve your spiritual leader. BEFORE you lose your heart!
- You have suffered enough. Don’t create a suffering scenario by being careless in heart issues!
- Many of you are not only protecting yourself, but also your children. They don’t deserve to be hurt anymore, so you need to be extra aware so they can be safe!