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.  

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