Share via Email Love Hurts: Romance scams are a type of online fraud, in which criminals pose as desirable partners on dating sites or email, win the hearts of their victims and end up fleecing them of their money. So how is it possible people still fall for them? I am 26 years old, I live alone in Senegal. And knowing this, I got back to her. The rise of dating scams reveals our endless capacity to hope Rebecca Nicholson Read more Let me back up.
Back then I was researching them for a TV show. He met someone, fell in love, and was eventually left bankrupt. Bill and I became friends. He was a smart, worldly man, and I was baffled as to how he could have fallen for a scam. Just before I left Australia, Bill and I celebrated his 80th birthday.
We talked about his scam, and Bill said something that stuck with me. This fascinated me — it seemed his loneliness overrode his common sense. Even as Bill and I spoke about the detrimental effects of scams, I was pretty sure he was still sending money overseas.
Even as Bill and I spoke about the detrimental effects of scams, I was pretty sure he was still sending money overseas Not long after, I moved to New York with my boyfriend, Michael.
Michael went to work in an office and made new friends, while I stayed home and researched scams. I had my guinea pig scammer. In customized curly rainbow font, Cindy asked what the weather was like in Mumbai, which made me realize she had her wires crossed between me and someone else she was scamming.
I decided there was no need to correct her, for now, so I Googled the weather in Mumbai. Cindy sent a photo: So whenever I communicated with Cindy, I pictured the woman leaning on the car. According to her, we were dating. So while my boyfriend was at work, my Senegalese girlfriend and I watched soccer and chatted online. And then, one day, Cindy asked for my photo. Cindy surprised me by saying she believed women should date men, but that she had fallen in love with me This was a problem, as she still thought I was a middle-aged Indian man.
I decided to come clean. I found this simultaneously funny, confusing and endearing. She asked for a photo, and, slightly baffled by this turn of events, against all reason, I sent one.
That night she sent an email: I Love Every little thing about you. Cindy asked me to call. I wondered if she was lying. Does she have a partner, I thought, or is she a single parent? And there it was: Cindy was no longer a random email in my spam folder. She was a person on the other end of the line, asking for help. Instead, I beat around the bush like a coward. Right on cue, an email came from Cindy. I do not go out to sell my body like some other girls do here.
If one of the other options was sex work, I could see that chatting to amorous westerners on the internet would be more appealing. Could I blame her for what she was doing? I felt like a jerk for stringing her along. I decided to write an email, from the real me, to the real Cindy. I intended to tell her a bit about me, but I found myself telling her a lot.
I told her my family came to Australia when the war in Yugoslavia began, and that my dad died when I was a child. I said I felt lonely and friendless. And as I wrote, I found myself tearing up.
I said that if she told me about her real life, about scamming, I would find some money to send her. She wrote back ignoring most of what I said, emphasizing that she was not a scammer — and including her Western Union details.
I felt a pang of annoyance and embarrassment for opening up to her. Did she think I was an idiot? Cindy and I went back and forth playing this game: We were at an impasse. She called me a wicked, selfish woman. She said she never wanted to hear from me again. And for the first time in a long time, my computer went silent. After Cindy dumped me, I felt like I understood Bill better.