Friday, September 25, 2015

Romance scam stopped in its tracks

On life and love after 50 newsletter
Tom P. Blake  -  Sept 21, 2015

Three months ago, at the request of several Champs--who wanted to correspond and exchange photos and stories with other like-minded Champs--we started a Finding Love After 50 Facebook group.

It is a friendship group, not a dating group, but people might still meet a potential mate there and that is great if it happens.

I decided to make it what Facebook calls a "closed" group, where I must approve of all members who want to join. In that way, I can screen people by checking their profiles to attempt to keep scammers and people with bad intentions out of the group and hopefully to help protect our Champs. 

While the membership has grown to 450, I've rejected more than 43 people from joining and removed a few members who made inappropriate posts.

Last week, one of our Champs, who lives in South Africa, and who has read my newsletter for years, emailed: "A good looking man joined our group last week. He contacted me immediately; we email every day. He says he is working in England and when he finishes there next week, he wants to visit me in my country and for me to be his woman."

I remember approving him; his profile revealed a handsome guy originally from England, now residing in Oklahoma; his Facebook page showed nothing suspicious. Ostensibly, his name was Chris Cornforth.

Our Champ added, "My concern: why so quick? He says we could live a few years here and then relocate back to Germany, where I'm from, or Oklahoma. I asked him how old he is, if he's divorced, or has kids, and what he's doing, and he doesn't respond to those questions. I've very worried."

I told her to be very careful, anybody who tries to rush a relationship after one week has ulterior motives. That is a red flag. And anyone who professes love within a short period of time, is blowing smoke as well.

When she emailed him that she was uncomfortable, he responded, exactly like this (notice his grammar, er, should I say, lack thereof). She forwarded his email to me: "...I Like going to Beach,swim,Dance,Write Poem,Dinner,Hanging around with Friends and going to church..I have been married twice my first wife died from fibroid Complications...

"...I had to get out of retirement to quickly see what I can do to get back on my feet luckily for me I got a contract from a construction company in africa and i am currently importing 4,000 tonns of 16mm Steelrods that will go to Benin...This is my last Job as i am finally planning to settle down with a woman i want to grow old with live a life of happiness and love together. I hope you are ready to be spoilt beyond measures.."

After reading his email, I wrote to her: "For a guy whose first language is English, this email is filled with grammar, capitalization and spelling mistakes. It was not written by an English-speaking person. Benin is a country in Africa next to Nigeria. He is a scammer; cut him off immediately.

She responded the next morning: "You are right. Fifteen minutes ago he came online and said he was robbed of all of his possessions--wallet, credit card, jewelry, etc. Then he asked for $400 to lend him and he will fly back to the USA to get money and then come straight to South Africa to be with me." She blocked him from further contact.

This is a typical Nigerian romance scam trick; I'm in a jam, send me money, and I'll pay you back very soon.

Everything romance scammers post is bogus. They search online (and not just on our Facebook page, but everywhere) for vulnerable people and try to exploit them. I removed him from our Finding Love After 50 Facebook group, grateful for our Champ's diligence, and certain that we had stopped a romance scammer. So even though I checked his profile, he still slipped through the fence and into our group.

When I posted this incident to the Facebook page, several of our women Champs said he tried to befriend them in that first week as well.

And while email, websites, and social media are wonderful and useful tools, we must realize that anyone can be anyone hidden behind the mask of communication. Stay diligent everybody, and email me the minute you see anything suspicious.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Widow Gets Lied To. Lessons learned

On Life and Love after 50 newsletter

 Tom P. Blake

I mentioned last week that there are two sides to every story. Today's story is an example of where I only have one side and that's how it's going to be. When you finish reading it, I think you will understand. There's no way I want to track down the married guy mentioned in it and get his side on why he allegedly cheated.

We call the woman in today's story the widow, to protect her privacy and to honor her request to not use her true name. 

The widow wrote, "I read with interest the story of the woman whose boyfriend had a backup plan." She felt compelled to share a story that happened to her.

She said: "Last November, I joined the and OKCupid dating sites. My husband of 39 years had died seven months prior and I felt I was 'ready' to look for a new relationship. My loneliness blinded me!

"I met a charming retired teacher who said he was divorced. We hit it off right away and began what I thought was a delightful romance. He said he was in the process of selling a second home 400 miles north so he was gone one to two weeks of each month. But he called me almost every day when he was away and we were very connected.

"We did a lot of things together and had laughs and great times together when he was here--the beach, movies, dinners and lunches out, shopping, it felt like I was a couple again. In February, (about three months after they met) I began seeing red flags. Inconsistent stories that indicated he was lying to me. When I would confront him about these stories, he 'didn't want to talk about them.' 

"In April, I overheard him say on the phone, 'I love you sweetheart.' The very thing he said to me! I confronted him and he confessed he was married. He had lied to me all along. I was such a fool for trusting him and getting so involved with him so quickly.

"I think his plan was to charm me and have me fall for him and so when I would find out he was married, I'd continue on as his secret girlfriend once his wife had moved down here to their new home.

"I was heart-broken and it took me a few months to heal from this trauma. I was already vulnerable from losing my husband so this deception felt horrible.

"A wise widow friend said I should think of the time invested in that relationship as 'tuition' because I learned a lot and won't make the mistake of getting involved so quickly again. My advice to women is to take it slow and be careful with your heart until trust is certain."

Let's stop right there for now. What lessons can we take away from the widow's story? As she pointed out:

- Loneliness causes us to make bad choices. Sharing with someone beats being lonely, but only if there isn't a price to pay

- Don't get involved too quickly

- Establish trust

- When red flags surface, immediately get them resolved or leave

- Her friend was right, consider the experience as tuition paid. We learn by our mistakes, and we've all made them in relationships

- At least she didn't get taken for money; that would have been even worse

The widow ended her email by saying:

"I know I'll never find another man like my husband. I'll never love another man the way I loved him and no man will ever love me the way my husband did.

"You cannot replace a person. I'm not trying to do that. I just want to matter to someone who matters to me. Someone who thinks I'm special. Someone I can laugh with and do things with. Someone I can count on and he can count on me. 

"I'm particular about men and most men my age have issues. I am far from perfect and I have issues too. Maybe it's a matter of what issues can people my age tolerate in one another and what issues can they not? But honesty is the basis."

And that is what all of us strive for: To matter to someone who matters to us. As Neil Diamond sang in the song, "Dry Your Eyes," from the album Beautiful Noise (1976). One of the most beautiful and captivating songs I've ever heard.

And then march forward, which the widow has done nicely.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Johnny Cash I Knew. A Kind and Caring Man

On Life and Love After 50 newsletter

Tom P. Blake September 11, 2015

The Johnny Cash I Knew. A Kind and Caring Man

Before I retired on January 30, retired people often told me: "You will wonder where the time goes and be busier than ever."

I suspected they were right. I had been building a bucket list over the years and it had several items on it. The top item: travel with my partner Greta as much as we can while our health permits. In April and May, we took a nice trip to Europe.

Second item on the list: exercise. Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) at Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor fulfills that goal 3-4 times per week.

Other items: continue writing this column, and then there was preparation for the fantasy football season, which kicks off this week. 

One item had been on the original bucket list since 2005, the year the movie Walk The Line--the portrayal of Johnny Cash's life--was released. I had a problem with the movie; I felt the portrayal of Johnny was way too negative.

Why did that concern me? I knew Johnny Cash and worked with him for two years in the mid-1970s when I was the marketing director for the Victoria Station restaurant chain. I had hired Johnny to do our radio commercials and got to know him well. He was one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

That 10-year bucket list item: Write a book that would reveal the kind and caring side of Johnny Cash that I had witnessed first-hand. I simply wanted to set the record straight. Before retiring, I didn't have time to finish it.

Finally, 10 years later, over this summer, I wrote the book. Last week, I put the full-court press on finishing it. If you don't do it that way with a book, you'll never get it done. On Friday, I uploaded the finished book to one of the largest online Ebook bookstores in the world,

The title: "The Johnny Cash I Knew. A Kind and Caring Man." Most of the 17 pictures were taken 40 years ago with my old Kodak camera and there are many examples of Johnny's kindness in the book.



To read more about this book, or to purchase it as an ebook on, follow the link

Tom's Johnny Cash book on

The most unique experience with Johnny: Going into San Quentin Prison with him for a concert.

Many older people tell me they want to write a book, to leave a legacy for their families. Ebooks are a great way to accomplish that goal without much cost, and, after they are published, they can be updated and changed. I invite readers to contact me if they have questions about ebook publishing.

So, with the book published, it's time to turn to other bucket list items, but which ones? Therein lies the challenge of retirement: which activity to tackle next? Those retirees who said "You'll be busier than ever" were right.

Maybe I'll open a restaurant. Nope, already done that one for 26 years. It's probably time for another trip with Greta.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Boyfriend's "backup plan" leads to mistrust

On Life and Love newsletter

by: Tom P. Blake September 4, 2015
On May 30, 2015, a woman Champ unsubscribed from the newsletter. People unsubscribe from time-to-time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they just inadvertently do it and may not be aware they did it until they realize in a couple or three weeks that they aren't receiving it anymore.

Other times people consciously unsubscribe because their health fails, or they don't like what I write, or their lives have changed. The latter was the situation with the Champ who unsubscribed on May 30. She had met a guy, and felt she didn't need the newsletter anymore.

I used to send an email to people who unsubscribed to try to learn why they left, thinking perhaps I could improve the newsletter to reel them back in. Usually they didn't respond so I just let it go. I did not email her to ask why she left, wasn't even aware she was gone.

And while I don't like to lose subscribers, I get it that people's situations change and it's inevitable that sometimes people are going to move on.

So, how did I find out about her meeting a guy?

Damndest thing. I was informed on Monday by Pay Pal that I had sold what I thought was a book via my Finding Love After 60 website bookstore. But, the sales receipt was for $16.95, and of the 4 printed and 6 ebooks on that website, none has that price. Plus the sales receipt didn't identify which book had been sold. I needed to know so I could ship it to her. Hence, I contacted Pay Pal and they were as puzzled as I. But the buyer's email address was listed so I contacted her. 

She told me she was the one who had unsubscribed on May 30 but now she wanted to re-subscribe and had purchased a subscription to this newsletter on my older website, Finding Love After 50. I was amazed because I have not charged for the newsletter for at least 5-6 years. But, apparently that particular page on that website wasn't updated to reflect the no-charge status and that is where she ordered from.

"Why did you come back?" I asked.

She explained, "I unsubscribed because I thought I had found 'the one.' (Met him on We started dating in September, 2014, and became exclusive after two months. We had a year of a wonderful, committed, exclusive relationship." (The kind we all strive for).

The rest of her story: When she and her boyfriend had become exclusive in November, she noticed--a week after she had removed her Match profile--that his profile was there. Because of that, she instigated a serious talk with him.

She said, "After much discussion and his panicked apologies, he asked for another chance and I gave it to him since our relationship was so new. He promised I could always check on him and he would never, ever, ever be on the site again unless we broke up. I trusted him and had not even thought about it again."  

Fast forward to August, 2015. 

She said, "From my perspective, he was on his second chance and he blew it big time. I just discovered he was still very active on Match. How did I find out? He handed me his pc to check some air fares for our travel, and the Match icon showed up as a recent website visited on the Google homepage. Much to my surprise he was setting up meetings with several women. He said it was his 'backup plan' and just made him feel good to have a great woman and yet lots of other women who still wanted him in case I ever left.

"I think he sabotaged the relationship because he is too smart to have accidentally forgotten Match was right on the front page. I have heard a similar story from several of my friends. I wonder sometimes if this new world of internet dating makes it too hard to resist compulsive, continued interaction and attention-seeking from the opposite sex for some individuals.

"I suspect there are some people who get 'addicted' to the high of new people approaching them. It's so, so, easy to initiate contact. Like overeating or drinking too much, internet dating becomes the drug of choice, seems like unlimited resources available in one click. I know some people are healthier than this. I hope I find mine some day.

She ended her email with: "He has started counseling, maybe he will find out more about himself. But I am done. Not my problem. Now just to mend my broken heart and be grateful I found out now rather than later. But I'm very, very sad. Back to the market and finding my own joy." 

This is a tough story because our Champ trusted her new man and had every reason to believe that he was the one. Yes, perhaps she should have watched that early-on red flag when she found out he was still on when he should have been off. Let's hope her broken heart mends soon. I tried to make her feel a little better by reminding her that the $16.95 is being refunded, since the newsletter is now free.  Little consolation, I realize.

A minor take-away from today's story: When you are in a relationship or even a marriage, and you've enjoyed and benefitted from belonging to a group, club, gym, newsletter, or Facebook page, whatever, think twice before opting out because you're now a couple (unless it is an online dating service or a nudist camp), and you feel you don't need to be there anymore. It is important to keep your interests, friends, and learning ongoing, even when you have a new special someone in your life.

Our Champ is back receiving the newsletter, a little worse for wear, but aimed in the right direction.