Public Service Announcement: Romance Scams

A decorative image with a green and dark blue background of the northern lights, with text in yellow-green script that reads "The Mission Within." Below that, a sans-serif font reads "Public Service Annoucement"

[Content Note: Today’s post contains mention of unhealthy and abusive dynamics within a relationship. I don’t give specifics, but if this is something you need to take into consideration, I encourage you to give today’s post a miss. Your well-being is what matters here, so no hard feelings. We’ll kick it together again some other time. However, if you decide to move forward with today’s post, and it brings up some difficult feelings for you, I encourage you to reach out to the Crisis Text Line, and for those of you residing outside the U.S. this site has some resources specific to your local area.]

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, or Palentine’s Day, whichever one you like to call it. Now that we’re coming out of the holiday mood, I think it’s a good time to call attention to romance scams. That’s why I decided to make today’s post about this instead of yesterday’s post.

Romance scams have been a thing since before the Internet and its’ predecessor ARPANET came into existence. Before the Internet became accessible to us members of the general public, romance scammers would carry out their schemes by snail mail. Since scams are an issue that hits close to home for me for multiple reasons, I feel like there’s no better time to talk about it than now.

Lots of people want a relationship. I did. Whether you want a relationship, or used to want a relationship, there’s nothing wrong with that. I need to make it clear to you readers that there’s nothing wrong with you for wanting a relationship. There never was anything wrong with you before, and there never will be anything wrong with you for this.

I recently saw a post on LinkedIn where the original poster shared their story about being scammed. As a favor to them, I won’t reveal their gender identity, and we’ll say the scammer they dealt with said that they’re doing something other than working on an oil rig.

According to the FTC, working on an oil rig is just one of the many go-to choices for a scammer to use in building their personas. The military is another choice, which is evil on so many levels. However, scammers will choose other occupations beyond these two, and those listed in the post, so if they claim they work in a profession other than these, it still doesn’t mean they’re not a scammer.

These scammers often operate in cells, or groups, so if it sounds like more than one person’s communicating with a victim, then that’s probably what’s going on. Sometimes, a scammer will act alone, but that’s less common. It still doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, though.

They will move the relationship as fast as they can, and do what it takes to make sure a victim’s world revolves around them. Since scammers tend to be located overseas, they’ll keep weird hours in order to do so.

The scammer (or scammers) will then try to get the victim to contact them off the site. The reasons why are varied, and they can include the site admins catching on to their sham, enough people reported them, or they’re back on their millionth ID, and about to get booted again.

Readers, this is why I recommend that if you ever interact with someone on a website, you stay on whatever site they found you at. If they don’t like it, then tough titty, said the kitty. They can get glad in the same pants they got mad in.

Then, after they’ve gotten the victim off the site, they’ll start asking for money. They’ll have many excuses. For example, they may claim that they need help getting out of the country, or they need to pay off a debt or else go to jail.

If they really need help getting out of the country, they can always hit up the embassy. By and large, debtors prisons aren’t a thing anymore, and the ACLU is taking the steps to change the modern-day iterations of these stupid institutions.

They’ll also avoid phone calls and video chats like the plague, because more often than not, they look nothing like the pics they used in their scam. By this point, they’ve usually got their victim so invested in what the victim thinks is a relationship that the victim feels like they have no other option but to stay. The scammer may behave abusively toward the victim, but when you stop and think about it, the scam itself is another form of abuse.

While the majority of scammers are located overseas in countries where there’s few (if any) repercussions for this sort of activity, scammers can also be in our own backyards, so to speak. Domestic scammers aren’t always talked about, and we need to change that.

There’s a show called Catfish, and while it mainly focuses on people who’ve been obsessed with someone else forever, the premise is similar to the typical romance scam in the sense that the other person invests a whole lotta time in what they think is a relationship going somewhere. (Fun fact: one of the contenders on My 600lb Life was on that show, after they catfished two different people. Speaking of which, I wonder how Red and Gemini are holding up these days.)

One of the stories really touched me, and it was the one where there was this guy who pretended to be someone he wasn’t, and it was to hook a whole bunch of women. Three of his victims confronted him, and he didn’t give a rat’s ass.

I’m betting dollars to donuts, he’s still doing this crap to unsuspecting women.

Years back, during my sojourn in online dating, with no luck beyond guys looking for someone to beat up on and treat like shyt, I found someone I thought was “the one.” It was long before I lost the weight, and before I go any further, I need to make it clear that nobody has the right to mistreat you or behave abusively to you because of the way you look.

IDGAF who they think they are, nor do I care who you are or what your station in life is. Nobody has the right to abuse you, and you deserve to live your life in safety across the board.

I found this person online. I no longer have the accounts I used to communicate with them. I remember they basically told me what I wanted to hear, and they love-bombed me. They started abusing me emotionally less than two weeks after I found them, and it snowballed from there. Long story short, it was very short-lived.

In my case, I was dealing with a domestic scammer and possibly even a serial predator. I suspect that they may have had predilections toward certain age groups, but since I can’t confirm it either way, I’ll keep those suspicions to myself. They used older pics of themselves. The one I happened upon of them in recent years was mind-blowing. Not in a good way, I’ll say that for sure. I’ve since found out that they were not only not-single, they also had kids.

For the record, the bastard lives a thousand miles away from me, and we’ve never met IRL. We’ve also since moved, and I look nothing like I did when I dealt with them.

And people have the gall to wonder why I’m not just done, I’m super-done with relationships. Smh.

In the case of the post I found on LinkedIn, they thankfully ended contact with their scammer when they started asking for money. This was the best thing they could’ve done for themselves, and it could’ve been a whole lot worse. Just look at what happened on this one episode of Dr. Phil.

However, Sebrina’s story is one of the more extreme examples of how bad it can get. Even if you never gave your scammers any money, it still doesn’t mean that what happened to you is null and void. What happened to you was still a scam, and even though all you were out was time, it doesn’t hurt any less.

The next question is, how to move on from a scam?

Regardless of whether money changed hands or not, your first move needs to be to end all contact with the scammer. Cut off every line of communication you had with them. Block their numbers if you used your own number, mark their emails as spam, block their social media.

Do yourself a solid, and never speak to them again. Don’t seek them out, don’t keep tabs on them. They’re hereby dead to you. Easier said than done at first, I know.

You’ll probably continue to get messages from them, but ignore them, even if they threaten you. They don’t want you. They’re a zillion miles away, so it isn’t likely that you’re in any physical danger. They’re just a bunch of lamewad punks and thugs out to make a quick buck, and they’ve taken the easy way out in order to do it. If you answer the phone, hang up as soon as you realize who it is.

These turds have nothing left to say to you. If changing your number is what it takes for your peace of mind, then go for it.

Moving forward after a romance scam, just like any other unhealthy or abusive dynamic won’t be easy. The process takes time. Anyone who promises you a quick fix doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and will ultimately cause you even further harm.

Therefore, take it one day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time, even.

What the scammers did to you isn’t a statement about you. Their actions are a statement about them.

It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game, but stop. None of this. and I mean NONE of this was your fault, and you never deserved any of this. You wanted a relationship, and the scammers used it against you. That’s their fuck-up. That’s all on them.

If someone else blames you for what happened to you, you can tell them whatever you’d like to, and you get to decide whether they need to continue being a part of your life going forward.

Stop calling yourself dumb and stupid, and other stuff like that. You’re none of those things. The scammers are. You were probably in a real difficult place with yourselves when the scammers found you, and they played on that. They do this to lots of people, without regard to their intellectual capabilities. You’re not the first one they’ve scammed, and unfortunately, you won’t be the last.

Mourn this as you would any other loss. What you thought you had with them mattered to you. It was real to you. Who you thought they were also mattered to you. Treat it like a death, because in a sense, that’s what it is.

Lastly, report them to whatever site they found you at, and to the providers of the services they used to contact you after they got you off the site to that second location, if it got that far. This, along with their wholly inappropriate conduct, can be your closure. It has to be. No closure from them will be forthcoming, and it’ll only drag out the process of moving forward even more.

More importantly, it’ll only keep you in contact with them even longer, and that’s what we don’t want.

Their actions said it all. I promise you, you don’t need their permission to move on, nor do you need their validation. Instead, if you need someone else’s permission to move on, I’ll give it to you right now. If it’s validation you want, you have it from me.

You can also report them to the FTC, and to the FBI. Also, consider sending their number my way. But, no pressure on that one. I promise!

Over to you, readers. Have you ever gotten caught up in a romance scam of some kind, whether the scammer was local or overseas? Know someone who has? If so, I’m sorry for what you and that someone you know went through. I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk.

Liked this? Then check these out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: This content is protected and copyrighted.