I am an idiot.
Turns out my dreamy, hot Italian would be lover is a con-artist.
After I Googled his name and received no results…traced his phone number back to another city (which he had covered by saying he had lived there first), I started looking over his emails. He had the perfect cover…English as a second language…to explain his odd grammar and syntax. But then there were some emails that were written in perfect English.
I assumed he wrote them in Italian and then used a translating program.
Boy, was I wrong.
He was cutting and pasting most of those emails word for word from the site of a known online dating scammer.
So I immediately reported him to the IC3, printed out his emails, and took down my profile on the other site I had dipped a toe into a couple of weeks ago when I was offered a free account, reporting him to the site as well. Then I went to sleep.
The next day, I ignored Tony’s good morning texts and emails. Finally, he IM’d me. I told him I could not continue the relationship; I had too much stuff going on in my personal life at this time, and I had to deal with it before I could get involved in a serious relationship. He said okay, asked me if I was sure…that we were soul mates…that God would bring us back together when the time was right for both of us.
Why was I so “nice?” I wanted him to put that bogus profile back up so the dating site could get him. I doubt they will…but I had to give it a try.
I have put a link up to the FBI Online Dating Scam Page but, I’ll list the red flags you need to look for when you start a conversation with someone (male or female) on an internet dating site.
Recognizing an Online Dating Scam Artist
Your online “date” may only be interested in your money if he or she:
- Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;
- Professes instant feelings of love;
- Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamor magazine;
- Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;
- Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or
- Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for a child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).
One way to steer clear of these criminals all together is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations.
Well, I WAS on a site with a nationally known reputation. You just have to be aware that these criminals are trolling all the sites looking for marks. And, I’ll also add one more red flag; if they IMMEDIATELY take down their profile after he/she starts talking to you…they are probably a con-artist.
Now, I have to say “Tony” did all of that stuff with me…but I was too starry eyed to see it. It was only when he mentioned having to travel to a West African country on business IMMEDIATELY that the alarm bells went off.
I was lucky. I didn’t lose any money. He did not get my surname, address, land line, or bank account information. It could have been worse. And honestly, emotionally I’m okay. Aside from embarrassment at my stupidity, I don’t feel anything other than relief that I got away from the creep.
But, I decided to take a look at couple of other guys who seemed to fit this profile…and…yes…they were scammers too. So out of the thirty or so men I have talked to via these dating sites, three have been fake. One in Ten….about the national average. And several more have visited my OKC profile…but just from their profile pictures they looked too good to be true, so I did not contact them at all.
The majority of the guys I have talked with have been on the up and up. The four I met face to face have been decent men. This experience with Tony was a reminder to be cautious. Communicate via the site until you can be sure he is legit. (And trust me, as soon as I get a guy’s full name, I will Google him….just to make sure he is who he says he is.) Plus, I’m only going to really communicate with men in my metro area. No long distance meet ups for me, thank you very much.
In fact, shortly after I cut off all communication with “Tony,” I messaged a local guy who has been checking out my profile for a couple of weeks. And by the end of the day, I started talking with another man in my metro area as well.
To quote my friend Jason, “The world is full of con-artists–the only way to avoid them is to lock yourself away in your apartment and never come out. That’s no way to live.”