PART TWO: Romance fraud victim, Firefly, talks about the shocking discovery she made about the man she thought she could trust. If you missed Part One, read it here.
Romance fraudsters target their victims online
She said: I started to get suspicious when the demand for money increased â€“ I was asked to transfer Â£30,000 because the boy had cholera and needed treatment.
I said no but he kept pushing. After that he tried different tactics â€“ coming up with lies about giving him money to help free up some inheritance and things like that.
One day I decided to do some investigating so I cut and pasted the first email I had received from my scammer and put it into Google. It turned up all over the internet with warnings about scams.
I was shocked â€“ a message I had thought was personal, just for me, had been used on countless other victims.
The first instinct was to blame myself and after that I began doubting my own judgement. I believed I was a smart person, I never imagined I would be fooled like this. I was so ashamed that I had been played like a dice. It really destroyed my confidence.
I turned to the internet for help and thatâ€™s how I found Scam Survivors and itâ€™s founder, Wayne May. Through the site I started talking to more victims like me. It really helped to find out I wasnâ€™t alone and that this can happen to anyone.
I began working with Wayne to support fellow victims and, together with a team of two others, we now work to hunt out scammers on the web â€“ finding as much information about them as possible and posting warnings on Scam Survivors.
It helped me to find clarity. I realised it wasnâ€™t my fault but it was my responsibility for letting it happen. I learnt to live with that and move on but it will leave a scar that will be there forever.
Today Iâ€™ve cut all ties with the scammer but that hasnâ€™t stopped him from trying to target me again by pretending to be someone else â€“ thatâ€™s what they do.
Victims need to change social media accounts, emails, phone numbers, everything that the scammer has in order not to be targeted anymore.
If you donâ€™t, youâ€™ll always be a victim because that scammer will sell all your details to someone else â€“ youâ€™ll be put on a â€˜suckers listâ€™ and others will target you.
Iâ€™ve since learned that some scammers will even try â€˜recovery scamsâ€™ on those victims that have discovered the truth after losing money. The scammer will pretend to be a police office or lawyer and say they can recover all of your money and put the culprit in jail but they need some money to do it and sometimes it works because the victim is at rock bottom, theyâ€™re desperate.
Some scammers will just take and take until thereâ€™s nothing left.
I donâ€™t use my old email address anymore but I still monitor it now and then and still, five years later, Iâ€™m getting emails.
Romance Fraud: Donâ€™t fall for it!
IF YOU HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SCAMS, VISIT SCAM SURVIVORS
Wayne May, founder of Scam Survivors, said: â€œWe offer support and advice, we also act to gather information and research current scams in a bid to raise as much awareness as possible.
â€œThe site gets 8000 visits a day from people from across the world â€“ itâ€™s a widespread problem.
â€œThere are just four of us working on the site on a voluntary basis, unfortunately we canâ€™t stop everyone becoming a victim but we can offer support and we will continue to educate in the hope that we can make a difference.â€