It was late one night, March 2020 in COVID isolation, and I was bored with feeling alone. I wondered what other bored and lonely women were doing to break the monotony of staying alive at home, and I just wanted to see a new face, any face other than my own. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea.
“ Check out on line dating apps!”
If nothing else it would break the monotony. So I scrolled through endless new faces, but I couldn’t see anything about the life of these men unless I registered myself. So I hurriedly found a photo and filled out a fictions name and life.
Foreword to two days later when my mailbox was brimming with ‘intros’ from suitors. I was a little overwhelmed to say the least, but I decided to check some of them out. Of course I only chose the ones who were half way across the world, just to be sure I wouldn’t meet them immediately. I had registered as being back in my birth country, the UK, so it didn’t sound at all strange to these men from Europe who wanted to date me.
“I’m away on business in the US, and I won’t be back until after the COVID quarantine,” I said. After all, that’s the ‘date guys’ used all the time in their profiles..
That was when I suddenly got an introduction from a Swedish man called Lars..
Hmmm. I hadn’t seriously been looking for an on line boy friend, but his intro sounded nice. He liked my picture, thought I had nice eyes, which was surprising because the photo was smaller than a postage stamp! Anyway, we got into a few exchanges here and there and he soon suggested we move off the site to an ap called Hangout.
Now ladies if you are reading this, take note. Any guy who suggests you get off the dating site and contact them privately is to be treated with suspicion. They are culling you from the safety of the herd!
Lars asked a lot of questions about me right away, and when I told him to slow down with the questions he said it was natural to ask in order get to know me. He wanted a phone call, and I worried that I was getting in over my head. Once again this had just been an exercise born out of curiosity. I took the bait and we talked for ten minutes. He was charming, had been born in Sweden, but when I questioned his unusual accent…it didn’t sound Swedish, he politely ended the conversation. Red flag. But I was still curious to talk to another human being, so when he started sending messages through Whats Ap, it became a nice daily routine of keeping in touch.
That was where I should have stopped, but Covid isolation and the fact that I had found a very intelligent and emotionally available male to talk to during this tough time seduced me in further. He always wanted to know how I was doing, how I had slept, how my day had gone. Wow! Even the men I know in person are not that communicative, so I kept going.
Fast forward two weeks, all the time keeping up this daily communication which had now been several phone conversations and a routine of good morning and goodnights with kiss emojis. It was then that I started to be suspicious. It was too good to be true, so when I asked for another photo one night and he sent a serious looking picture that could be right off his passport page, It was a day later, one evening before the goodnight chat, that I decided to do a reverse image search on the internet, and there he was. Multiple images of the same man, in different photos, and different poses. They all had names other than Lars under them, and were dated over a period of several years, and then the alert was there; this poor man’s photo had been used by romance scammers for quite a while. It turned out on further digging that he was actually a Brazilian psychologist, and the poor man’s photo was now gracing the pages of many internet dating sites on women’s computers.
My first thought was that I had to pull way back from this conversation, assess what I had found out and try to detach myself emotionally from Lars, or whoever I had really been talking to. It was then my phone clicked and the usual message came up.
“Hi baby, did you have a good day? I just got up my time and I wanted to send you a goodnight kiss.”
My stomach churned uncomfortably, but I hadn’t decided yet what I wanted to to, so I played along and sent a goodnight kiss back. My sleep was less than peaceful that night and I had dreams of ghosts chasing me through empty hallways. I woke up sweating, and made the decision to confront this scammer.
The next morning, an hour after my good morning kiss from Scam man, as I now called him, I waited to reply and he became uncomfortable, texting me again and again to see if I was alright. Then I dropped the hammer and told him I knew he was not who he said he was.
Now for the record dear readers, it has been suggested by various internet sites that a scammer should not be confronted but just blocked from contact ever again, and I don’t know why I didn’t follow the advise. Perhaps I wanted to tell him off, perhaps I wanted revenge, I don’t know my state of mind at that point, but I felt angry.
Scam man replied after what only seemed to be a heart beat. “Can I talk to you on the phone? Please.” Praying hand emoji.
to be continued…….