In his Washington Post column today, John Kelly writes his second piece on online romance scams. Apparently these are growing more abundant and many of the perps are from places like Nigeria. They masquerade as everything from Special Forces troops to regular guys, looking for a real romance. After establishing an online relationship with a woman in which they work on building trust and her belief that he cares and that they have a real bond—these guys go for her pocketbook. Often the ruse is about needing money for a business that has suddenly run into a problem with delivery of products in a foreign port, or perhaps a sudden problem with cash flow that leaves the guy in need of a large sum of cash in order to come to the states and meet his lady love for the first time. He asks her to provide the money upfront with the promise of a pay-back once his Cash flow is freed up. She believes she has met her soul mate and provides the cash in the form of a Cashier’s check that can’t be traced, and that is the last she hears from her Romeo.
Unfortunately too many women this has happened to don’t report it, due to both embarrassment and the real risk that she as the victim, will be blamed for being taken in. However, some women are more skeptical, guarded, or experienced enough that they sniff out the con beforehand and when they challenge him, he disappears, but her cash is still safely with her.
One such woman appears in Mr. Kelly’s column today. Barb Sluppick, from Branson, MO. has been working to help women with these scams since 2005 when she was targeted by one. Fortunately she didn’t fall for it, but it did lead her to establish a website, romance scams which is an online resource for victims. Apparently this is a career for Ms. Sluppick who has given up on finding love and devoted all her time to her passion of hunting down and helping flush out scammers.
Want to learn what to watch out for as you search for love online? Or maybe you are just curious or know someone who may be susceptible to this and could use your help? Check out this useful resource and spread the word. The only way to stop these guys is to turn potential victims into savvy online daters.