Editor’s Note: Lovefraud’s Resource Perspectives features articles written by members of Lovefraud’s Professional Resources Guide.
They Aren’t Who They Say They Are
By Skipp Porteous, Sherlock Investigations
People contact Sherlock Investigations every week that have been taken by someone they met online. To make matters worse, the perpetrators die off before the benefactors even realize that they’ve been had.
We’ve all heard of the Nigerian scams. (It’s amazing how many people still fall for them.) They contact you by email claiming to be the wife, husband, son, or daughter of someone who had control of a lot of money. They want you to help them retrieve the money. If you help them, they’ll give you, say, a 20 percent commission.
The other day we had a guy who fell for this. He contacted us because he wanted to know if a certain person was the head of The Bank of Africa. He was already in over his head when he emailed us. He had called a number in Africa and spoke to a “lawyer.” The lawyer assured him that he could help him negotiate the red tape to retrieve his money. His only fee would be $850, in advance.
The fool sent $850 to Africa by Western Union. A week later, the lawyer said that he needed another $5,500. That’s when he contacted us. I told him that he’d be had, and not to go to Ghana to try to find the guy and get his money back. People have been murdered trying to do this.
There are many, many scams on the Internet. Some people list themselves on dating sites or other social networking places. After weeks or months sending back and forth engaging email or instant messages, they win your heart. Then, they usually want money or sex.
One potential client sent a guy $6,000 for supposed necessary knee surgery. When our would-be client started to get suspicious, he got an email from someone saying that the guy who had knee surgery died of a blood clot. Without a doubt, it was the same guy who received the money. Time to move on, he thought.
This week alone we received pleas for help concerning three different people who “died” during the course of an Internet relationship. A guilt-trip was even placed on one woman. The writer said, “It was all your fault that he died.”
Young men often fall victim to scams because they engage in online chat with young females who are charming and beautiful. Of course, the photos they send are not usually themselves. One person was sending out photos of an Italian porn star. We tracked him down and found a fat kid living with his mother. We even got a surveillance photo of him.
But, in one case, a guy had been having an online relationship with a girl from the Philippines. He hired Sherlock Investigations to check her out. She actually turned out to be who said she was, and he went to the Philippines and proposed. Now, they’re happily married. This is true, but unfortunately, uncommon.
A lot of people are greedy and think that they can get something for nothing. It ain’t gonna happen, folks. The bottom line: Don’t give money, or yourself, to someone you don’t really know.
The Lovefraud Professional Resources Guide is a listing of professionals who can help victims escape from entanglements with sociopaths. All professionals in the guide are recommended by clients or colleagues. We’re looking for therapists, lawyers, child advocates, private investigators, forensic accountants, expert witnesses and social services organizations. If you know someone who can be an effective advocate for victims, please submit a referral.