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LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Hooked by an Internet predator

Editor’s note: Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader whom we’ll call “Greta.”

After being married for 23 years to an alcoholic, being sad and lonely, I was vulnerable and targeted by a sociopath online through Facebook. I live in the US, he was from the Netherlands but living in Italy at time. He sent me a random friend request, I accepted, we talked on instant message chat occasionally for about 9 months and then he zeroed in.

He speaks 5 languages fluently and has traveled to many countries. He is very bright and articulate. We had similar interests, especially spiritually, or at least the illusion was that we did. He convinced me to use Skype and after that I ended up leaving my husband, family and job and sent him a plane ticket to come to the US. (Of course, he had no money and used the excuse that he lost his job several months ago and was unemployed in a terrible economy—pity party.)

We met in Florida where we stayed with my father and stepmother for a few months. Employment was difficult but I landed a long-term temporary position with an insurance company. My stepmother was the first one to see through him. She tried to warn me but I didn’t want to hear it, even though my intuition was telling me something just wasn’t right. When she finally said he had to get out of her house because his 90-day visa was going to expire, he convinced me to go to a motel until we got an apartment, which we did within the week. Once we were on our own, his true colors started coming out.

True colors

He was manipulative. He isolated me from friends and family. He grabbed my arm so hard one time he left a bruise that lasted over a month. He was a drinker from the beginning but it escalated. I started to find out things about his past relationships and work history, some of which did not add up to what he had told me. Evidence of him trying to find other women was all over the internet. He would constantly threaten me that, “if I ever broke his heart, there would be no grotto in the mountain that could hide me … he would hunt me down and kill me.” In the beginning he couldn’t do enough around the house, including cooking. Soon enough he became lazy and did nothing but drink, smoke and play on the internet all day (most likely looking for his next target).

Meanwhile, I was missing my 21-year-old son and his new 2 month old baby. I wanted to come back to PA to see them. He did not want me to go. Something about the whole situation started to scare me. I was afraid to break it off but then I wasn’t sure if I wanted to or not. Something just didn’t feel right. The good times were great and the bad times were subtle but yet scary. He would get terribly angry over trivial matters. He would say nasty things. I would cry and then he would apologize then use intimacy to get to me.

Escape

Because I was fearful, I finally decided that I would secretly leave, as if I was going to work one day and go to the airport and go home to PA. I started secreting my most precious belongings to my mother’s house. He was so self-involved he never even noticed anything missing. I knew I would have to leave a lot of possessions and clothing behind but I didn’t care.

The day came, I left as if I was going to work, kissed him good-bye and left for the airport. Three times on the way to the airport I was ready to turn around and go back … why was I feeling such an attraction to him that I was having such a hard time going away from? With my stepmother’s and mother’s help, I got on the plane and went back to my family.

Even after 4 months of this nightmare, my husband and family never gave up on me. My husband never stopped loving me and is willing to do anything to help me through this trauma and we are working our marriage. He has even stopped drinking.

On the street

After I left I stayed in contact with my SP for a while, feeling guilty and responsible that I didn’t send him back to Europe and left him basically in the mud … no place to live, no money … nothing. The apartment manager contacted me and told me that he was taken by ambulance to the hospital for playing suicide. After 3 days, he was released and tried to enter the apartment but I had the locks changed. He then broke into the neighbor’s apartment and was arrested for trespassing and spent 10 days in prison. When he was released he spent about 2-3 weeks on the street and in shelters. He convinced a church to buy him a bus ticket to NY city.

I cut off contact with him … he had my email … but I remain in contact with his ex-girlfriend/mother of his child in Italy. She tells me that he is in NY waiting for the paperwork to be sent back to the Netherlands. It scares me that he is only 2 hours from me in PA. It scares me that I might look out my door and see him standing there one day. Even though our last contact he kept telling me how much he loved me still, I know this is not true. I know he is angry. I know it is obsession not love. I can only hope he gets that ticket back to Holland and does not ever come back to US soil.

He is an internet predator and once I have healing under my belt, it is my goal to teach women about the dangers of the internet and sociopathic predators such as the one I encountered. I was a Criminal Justice professional with a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice Rehabilitation and a minor in Psychology, yet I didn’t see it coming. I was physically, emotionally and financially devastated from this experience, and I want to prevent others from making the same terrible mistake I did.



39 Comments on "LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Hooked by an Internet predator"

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  1. aussiegirl says:

    ConnedInCharlotte –

    “relieved to find people who had been through something like I had.”

    Only hundreds of us darling! Welcome and stay and read and weep and growl and bluster and learn and grieve and RECOVER. You are in the right spot for it. x

    I hadn’t ever met anyone with so many commonalities as I had. We loved the same food, the same music, the same activities, had the same life goals.”

    Hate to burst your bubble – but probably NOT.

    They study us and listen carefully to everything we say, notice the things for which we have reverance and watch to find out the things that we hold dear – then they simply mirror these things back to us and smile on the inside as we sqeaul delightedly, “Wow! Really ?!?! ME TOO!!!!!”

    It’s all a sham; nothing behind the mirror but a swirling, vaccuous void. We LIKE what we see and hear because these things reflect our OWN values and interests. We are not being vain in this – our delight at having found our “soul mate” is genuine, as is our delight at having “found” someone with whom we have so many things in common.

    Smoke and mirrors, babe – smoke and mirrors.

    “he claimed to have late-stage skin cancer. He had the scars on his body to prove it. I even met his entire family, who confirmed his disease. ”

    Several possibilities here:
    1) He hasn’t got it but he has convinced his family/friends who he has also scammed, that he has and that’s why they appear to back up his story (this option is highly likley, as many spaths pretend all manner of sickness, especially termial illnessess);

    2) He had some benign tumours or lumps removed but goes by the malignant story because it pays better (again, having misrepresented the truth to family and friends):

    3) He has got something nasty, but instead of seeing the way that those of us who are actual human beings would, he has managed to turn it to his advantage and use his situation as a means of scamming others (indicating that the cancer is in fact NOT the nastiest thing he has; besides his toxic personality, the cancer really does fade to into insignificance).

    Aloha –

    Thank you for your kind wishes – right back at ya sister! x

    I have every intention of making this year such a good one that it will go some way to wiping out the past 11!



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  2. Stargazer says:

    I believe long distance online romances are generally a bad idea. However, I do think there is some merit in *meeting* people online if you are going to meet them in person right away, AND if you can take the meetings lightly. If you are too lonely, it’s harder to do that. If you’re not too lonely or vulnerable, the internet can be a great tool for expanding your social circle and making introductions to people you wouldn’t normally meet. But I caution against having long, drawn-out email, skype, and phone romances. I know how seductive some people can be online. When I first joined my reptile forum, I was very lonely and it was my main social outlet. I began developing crushes on different guys I mostly never met) and got my heart broken a few times. (This is also where I met the sociopath, but at least we met in person right away. So meeting in person is no guarantee that you don’t have a sociopath).

    The problem with long distance romances that start online is that you know very little of the person, so your mind creates a fantasy of that person and fills in the gaps for what you don’t know. The longest I ever chatted online with a guy before I met him was 6 weeks. That felt like an eternity, and I developed such a fantasy about him that when I finally met him, I ignored the little voice telling me he wasn’t right for me. Though he was a decent and genuine person, I ended up getting my heart broken. During our online discussions, I didn’t see the subtle cues that we were not suited as a romantic couple. And by the time I met him, I was already invested in the fantasy. Tough lesson.

    So now I make it a point not to develop romantic relationships online. If they are long distance, unless I am looking for a contact/friend in that particular town, I won’t even write to them.

    Having said this, I am off the dating sites these days because my social calendar is pretty full, and I’m meeting a lot of guys through shared interests and mutual friends and dating a few of them casually. I am going on a cruise this weekend with a guy I met through a mutual friend but our friendship started on Facebook. He saw me at a club one night dancing and singing karaoke with a famous musical icon who is a friend of both of ours. Apparently he became interested in me. I had no idea who he was because he had left by the time my musical icon friend told me of his interest. She was trying to play matchmaker. It was very sweet. I was flattered but I didn’t think anything of it. I saw his picture, and didn’t get too excited. Eventually, he friended me on Facebook through our mutual friend. We became Facebook friends, and I got to see his great personality and sense of humor. One day he invited me to a concert, and we had a great time. It was all very light and casual but it was clear that it was still a date. He puts no pressure on me for anything more, though I’m very excited about the cruise and what might be a possibility with him. My point is that the internet facilitated this casual dating relationship. I think this is one of the the greatest advantages of the internet if taken in the right light. However, for the very lonely or vulnerable, it’s easy to get targeted by predators. Hopefully, you will know if you are lonely or vulnerable, but sometimes you don’t. Obviously I didn’t know back in those days.



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