Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I fell for a scammer ....

How was that even possible? I know better. I've been processing Widowed Village applications for seven years and know what to watch for. I know all of the red flags. I've even corresponded with some of them who have managed to get into Widville by using other's info and played along until they crossed the line and I had reason to kick them out of there.

But not this time. I even pushed back with a couple of friends who tried to point out the red flags that I refused to see. How could I have been so stupid?

It's a whole different playing field when your heart gets involved. And these guys know exactly how to do that. If you read my blog you know I'm very open and honest. Well I was open and honest when answering each of the questions he asked. And that showed all of my vulnerabilities. He picked up on each and every one of them and used those words that he knew would touch my heart.

Five days. Yeah, just five days. Some may wonder how I could possibly fall for someone in such a short period of time. But I did. Because I've been seeking that "poof" ... that connection ... that person who was going to just show up and be "the one".  Foolish? Perhaps. But it happened with Vern. And I thought Vern had brought this amazing man to me. Instead this guy had read my blog posts and knew exactly how to lure me in.

So how did I finally realize he was a scammer?  I have to thank God & Vern for that. I went to bed last night on a high after our conversation. I couldn't erase the smile from my face and I felt like a teenager (please don't laugh). He mentioned he was reading a book on relationships so I added it to my Kindle and took it to bed to read. I dozed off but awoke within the hour with this urging that I needed to check his emails and texts for suspicious language. It was 1:30am so I figured I'd do that when I got up in the morning, but that whisper would not go away. So I got up and went to my laptop. I selected a sentence, put the quotation marks around it and Googled it. And there it was. On multiple scammer sites dating back to 2010. But still that wasn't enough to convince me. So I Googled several other sentences. Yep. All of them were there.

I searched those sites for his name and photo but didn't find it. And then I chose some of the more personal things he had said ... and there they were on those scammer sites. I couldn't ignore it any longer. So I wrote him a text ... not as nasty as you might expect ... and he argued with me about it!  Tried to make me feel guilty for not believing him. I blocked his number. And then I went into eHarmony and I reported him. Marked his email address as spam, too. And yet through it all I still wanted to believe.

I had searched his name, email and phone number when I first learned each of them, just as a safety measure, but could find nothing - even on the BeenVerified app I use for Widowed Village. And, yes, that concerned me. So I asked him about it and he had an explanation.

Now when I share what he said I expect that every single one of you are going to say .... "OMG Dianne, how could you have not known right then and there that he was a fake."  But I believed him.  It's that heart thing, ya know, and he had already done the work so I would believe him.

So ... he said he's retiring in 6 months and is a Lt. Col in the Army working with special ops teams. And that explained why he doesn't have an online presence. And it also explained why he has homes in TX, AZ and NV.  And he even sent me a photo of his passport. Yep. Dianne believed that a Lt. Col had fallen for her sight unseen and was her Chapter 2.  I feel so stinkin' stupid. And still I cry as I type that. I wanted to continue to believe him even after finding his words on those sites. Pitiful, isn't it?

You see, those feelings I experienced when he and I seemed to just click ... well they were amazing and exciting and powerful and exhilarating ... and I did not want to walk away from that. But I did. And now I can only hope that I will feel that way again one day, with someone who truly loves me and deserves my love.

The internet can bring some wonderful things. Many of you who read my blog I only know online. But it can also be an ugly place where people can pretend to be who they are not with the sole intention of causing destruction. Luckily, I exited before we got to the part where he would ask for my help financially, so only my heart was stripped clean.

I'm trying to replace the image of the handsome man I fell for with what he probably is ... a skinny Nigerian scammer or a 13 year old boy getting his kicks at the expense of an old widow lady. Or maybe that really is him in those photos. I will never know.

I'm not sure what I'll do about eHarmony. I paid for 3 months, so will let it sit until I feel up to peeking in there again. After looking at all of those photos on the scammer site, there won't be a single guy in there that I won't think I saw on that other site. I will change my parameters to just have locals (although Jeff had himself listed as living in Henderson), and I'm going to remove any reference to being widowed. Jeff was the only one out of all of those matches I received that showed an interest. I'm going to try to not let that make me feel bad.

Oh and as for those red flags ... there was a big one that I didn't recognize until the very end. Scammers for some reason like to use first names when creating their scammy name. My guy actually used a first name for all three:  Jeffrey Kurt Douglas

Other red flags: 

  • Not wanting to talk on the phone
  • Having an excuse why you can't meet immediately
  • Suggesting you leave the dating site to text or use email
  • Being too complimentary - or as Jeremy said, "Mom, guys don't talk like that."
  • They ask you a lot of questions
  • The details they give you in a text or email don't match what is on their profile
  • Use of a "pet" name (babe, darling, sweetheart, sunshine)
  • Fake passports can look very real
  • Pay attention to the times when they send messages; that can alert you to them being in a different time zone (or country)
  • If you notice a comment that seems odd or doesn't fit how they've sounded before, check it out. Google it with quotation marks around it to see if it shows up on a scammer site.
  • If they seem too good to be true ... they probably are


Unknown said...

Dianne.......I am so very sorry. Lesson learned. Give yourself some time to heal, and try it again. We all know there are a lot of toads out there! Sending hugs your way.

Sheryl said...

Dianne... those of us who have ventured out there on online dating have had this happen. My very first experience was with a "widower" who lived close by... I fell hard, he was SO handsome! Yet, he couldn't meet, messaged me at 3 am and his grammar was "off". I couldn't find him anywhere. I wanted so badly to believe that he was real, but when he told me he was a journalist and had the choice of 2 different assignments, one in England (safe) and the other in Pakistan (not safe)
and he wanted me to help him decide I KNEW that he was going to pick the not safe one and it wouldn't be long before he messaged me and told me he was stuck there and needed money to come home.

I was like you. Not wanting to date numerous guys, I just wanted the one I clicked with... it took time, but, I clicked... (((Hugs)))

Unknown said...

Been there, done that and it sucks how rampant it is. I was tricked with the sweet words and pet name. And he ended up being some schmuck in Turkey who’s English was just slightly off but not enough to make me not believe what I wanted to believe. I cried too. The minute he asked for money I knew. It broke my heart. I spent months talking to him. He still tries to text me now and then but I just ignore him. It’s so very sad the number of women they take advantage of. How do they sleep at night? It’s ok, Dianne. It happens to the best of us. I fell hard too.

Patience said...

Dianne, I'm so sorry this has happened! If you can get "taken in" by a scammer, anyone can! I'm proud of you for getting out there! You inspire me!

Shantelle said...

I too have fallen victim to scamming. Big tight hugs tonight. I'll be flying into town this weekend if you're up to one in person. Self care sweet lady.

Sarah Walker Gorrell said...

Dianne: I am SO sorry this happened to you.

I have begun to "go on"...... with an old friend who had lost his wife (who was my friend). That hasn't been easy, either.

God really does work in mysterious ways to help us to help ourselves. He allowed this to happen to you so you would be aware and watchful and careful. These days, there aren't many Verns and Bobs (my honey) out there.

The right one WILL come along.......and you will be prepared.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you had to experience this. you are such a wonderful warm amazing woman... it isn't fair. But they are out there! I get friend requests on FB all the time from men who have no friends and I have a "private" profile; I have no idea how they find me, but I delete all of their requests. you are very smart and i'm not worried about you- you won't fall for this again. But no one can blame you, either. Be safe.

Lori Bartok said...

My friend, I am so sorry this happened to you. It takes a lot of courage to go on those dating sites. More courage than I would ever have. Good for you for listening to your Spidy-sense and then honoring it. Love and hugs.

BlueRidgeWoman said...

Oh my goodness...I bought a tshirt at a museum recently that summed this up for me: you only see what the eyes what you to see. Or the heart. And while your wallet was certainly spared, you may have also spared yourself from the worst sort of narcissist. I believe that someone is going to show up in your life and you will know. Like Vern. But different because you are ready for a different sort of partnership. Not that yours and Vern's wasn't, but a relationship that supports the independent and capable and strong woman you are. A narcissist would have sucked that right out of you. Set your BS detector to stun and go out there and conquer! Sending you love! Martha M.

BlueRidgeWoman said...

"Want" you to see... sheesh. 😆

Don said...

I'm sorry Dianne, There is a special place in Hell for people like that.

Janice said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Dianne, but I want you to know you are my hero. I am also in this ambiguous territory of trying to decide whether or not I want to stick my toes in the dating pool, and I feel like you are the warrior blazing the path for me. I don't know how to express my gratitude to you for sharing your experiences with me and with the rest of the widowed community. Frankly, if it had been me, I would have taken my embarrassment and hidden in a corner and pretended the whole thing never happened. God bless you my friend.