I was reading a shocking article the other day about the seemingly unstoppable rise in what is known as romance fraud and how intelligent people are getting drawn into parting with houses, life savings and pensions in the name of deluded love.
These people are predominantly men who are either widowed or divorced but increasingly, women are also susceptible. There was one woman in The Cotswolds who was done for £800k by a dashing young man claiming, would you believe, to be an MI5 agent.
Whether it is by internet dating or infiltrating a vulnerable member of a family, these scammers are experts at who they target, gradually befriending them and eventually, when the time is right, claiming they are in love with them.
It is when they have the full confidence of the victim they start looking for sympathy, which will often be in form of feigning personal illness that can only be cured by expensive treatments or things like a desperate need for money for sick elderlyparents from distant shores.
According to the British Psychological Society sensitive and less emotionally intelligent people are more likely to be vulnerable to romance scams and once they are in, it is hard to turn the tide. This is because the scammer, once full confidence has been achieved, will turn victim against family and friends with crocodile tears and claims of bullying and even violence from outside parties.
The final stages of the scam come with victim offering full trust to the scammer with regards to bank accounts, credit cards and passports. Bank accounts are emptied, the scammer has gone, and, likely, there is not a jot the police can do about someone who has flown home to Lagos, Budapest, Moscow or the Far East.
The more localised British scams involve a quick romance, marriage, divorce or death (in the case of elderly) and are generally aimed at vulnerable men and women who have a liquid cash or a property portfolio. The scammer will tend to be younger and attractive, either on their website profile or in real life.
I sometimes wonder if I was a victim of this several years ago after I dated a pathological liar but I think (although I am not certain) that the person involved was more a gold digger than a fraudster and fucked off when she realised I didn’t have much gold worth digging for. At the time it was a shock, but in hindsight, I can’t stop celebrating my good fortune.
What it did teach me is that we are all vulnerable to bullshit. I don’t mean little white lies, or the embellishment of the truth for a good story. I mean absolute bullshit about careers, illness, former partners and finances. This is because we tend to judge people by our own standards that hover around the morally decent end of the spectrum with a few errors along the way.
We are not, as humans, emotionally prepared for people to feign liking or loving us only to defraud us, so in times of vulnerability, any of us are susceptible to getting done over. Me, you, or the next man/woman. Hiding behind thinking we are ‘good judges of character’ is the easiest way to let a fraudster take control of the grooming process.
The sad thing about the rise in ripping off vulnerable adults, is that it puts good people off finding new people in their lives after the trauma of death or divorce. Online dating or meeting new people can be fun and not everyone is out to get you; I can tell you that from experience.
I enjoyed my online dating periods and met some good people who for one reason or another were incompatible but that doesn’t make them bad folk. As per usual, it is a small minority who are out there to prey on decent individuals who are just looking for a bit of happiness.
How cruel is that?
So, if you think you know someone getting groomed for a scam, go to the page link below and learn more about how scamming a vulnerable person works and remember, as the article explains, fraudsters have worked hard to become persuasive and even the most financially savvy people can be taken to the cleaners.
Sorry if this blog was a bit depressing, but I just thought it was worth putting out there? My next one will be about my dog turning 3 years old and will be far more jovial.