Friday, 16 April 2021

It Can Happen To You! (Romance Scams!)

Being a single woman is awesome until it’s not. I feel like an old pro with most of the dating apps at this point. It all starts to feel very scripted, same old pickup lines, same old excuses. My bullshit detector is sensitive af! With the pandemic shutdown still in place but everyone scrambling to get their vaccines completed, the dating world has suddenly turned into the wild west. I was talking to some people, nothing out of the ordinary, but the conversations continued and I started to really enjoy myself. When someone is interested and enthusiastic, it can feel really good. Throw in some fun flirting and finding things in common with one another, it can even be addicting. Like when you have a new crush and that’s all you think about. Ha-ha!


It began with talking to one person, then two, and now three. Each had qualities and characteristics that I was into and found refreshing. Conversations were frequent and started to become a regular part of my day. Two people in particular I had been talking to virtually everyday for over a month. It felt like things were really great and that I might get to meet these people once we’re all vaccinated. But you see, friends, I have this annoying ability at picking up on behavioral patterns very quickly and the coincidences were not sitting right for me. I started to take notes about these people, at first to keep my facts straight, and then things took a dark turn.


I was texting with one when they said they had an issue. I’m an empathetic person, so I asked what was going on. They said it was their tax return, because they were overseas (short term contract they said, more on that in a mo), they weren’t able to access their account for some reason. They said that a friend or relative could get it for them with their SSL and DL. I simply said that isn’t true, only a spouse that you’ve filed jointly with can do that. I’m no fool! The IRS is very clear about these things. They insisted that because they’re working for the government they were allowed to do this. C’mon! The kicker is when I respond with facts they respond with emotion. “I’m hurt and feel disrespected” they claimed. “I don’t appreciate you insulting my intelligence like this” I replied. Then they fell silent for a bit claiming to be working…at 3 am…as an orthopedic doctor working with the air force stationed in Yemen. SUUUURE! This morning they popped up again and said they were angry at me about it. I said, “You’re only angry that I didn’t naively fall for your scam.” Then they got rude and offensive. Y’all, they said I was a selfish asshole! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH!!!


As if that wasn’t enough, the second person I was talking to, that I really thought was real I tell ya. Well, they said they had a problem that was stressing them out. And my stomach dropped. They work in construction project management and their retainer fee was shorted and they needed to pay their workers. They claimed that because some of their workers aren’t from America that their bank froze their account when too many foreign transfers occurred on the same day. Plausible. They explained that they were trying to log into their Cash App to pay their workers but someone must have hacked their account because they can’t log in. They claimed to have called customer service and still no luck. Playing coy I suggested they call their bank or go in person. That they try Paypal, Venmo, Zelle…They started to say how much they trust me and that if I could help them to just create a new Cash App account and share the login…and I laughed my ass off. Two scammers on the same day?! Are you kidding me?! Life can’t be this ridiculous, right?! It is, friends, it really fucking is! When I suggested this was a classic scam technique they got upset, said they were hurt and then very suddenly went to bed. Ha! 


So let’s break down some red flags because I didn’t catch them as such immediately but very soon saw them for what they were, bullshit!


All three were:

*Local to me but suddenly traveling for work, not returning for several weeks
*Only children (maybe not a red flag on it’s own, but all three at once?!)
*Were not born or raised in my state
*Not vaccinated and didn’t even have an appointment to get one (it’s open to all over 16 in my state now)
*Professed their heavy feelings very early in communication (“I love you!” lots of future life talk, promises of *happiness)
*Never asked for a phone or video call (one even claimed a phobia, which I get, but also, c’mon!)
*Wanted to chat on another app right away rather than use the dating app (some dating apps super suck, I get that, so I offer Kik as an alternative since you don’t have to give out your phone number like you do with WhatsApp)
*Suddenly had a money issue that required my assistance via providing my SSN/DL (they never asked for money, one even offered to split their tax refund with me ahhahahahaha!)
*Responded with emotional manipulation when I said this was a classic scam technique
*All 3 gave or used their full names either in conversation or as their usernames, I mean who does that?!

Now there were things that made me believe they were the people in their pictures. Like when I asked for a pic they would send one right away, but not posed or in odd locations, it seemed to me they were who they claimed. They never asked for nudes or anything salacious. One never really even flirted in the usual way and always kept things respectful. All three seemed to be very well mannered, which I was super into. UGH! I forgave typos and other text based oddities. Like the Dr used exclamation points instead of question marks. The Project Manager copied poetry from google and then lied about it. Didn’t use proper grammar, which I get is not something a lot of folks do in text, but they were supposedly wooing me, right?! 


I am careful before I even interact with people. I do reverse google image searches, social media searches, what have you. I never give out my real phone number. When they insist on moving off the original dating app to communicate I always push back at first. “What’s the difference between texting here or another app?” Sadly apps like Tinder and POF are not timely with their chat notifications, used them for years, so I’m more forgiving because of this. Which is why Kik is a better choice since you don’t need a phone number to use it or find people. I use google voice for my phone number, it’s free and will text and ring your phone like normal, and they are none the wiser. I actually say in my profiles, “Do not ask for my number, I will offer it when I’m ready.” but I’ve yet to have anyone actually fucking respect that. These people didn’t even know my last name. They knew so little about me and yet claimed to be in love with me.


Please be safe! Report profiles once you see the red flags pop up. Protect every aspect of your identity! I know how hard that is, you wanna meet people, get to know them, see how things progress. But some things really can wait. Addresses, real phone numbers, last names…why would anyone need those in order to know they like you and wanna meet you IRL? Push back or say no to something at random and see how they react. Strong emotional reactions are a big red flag! If they are insisting on using a specific app, offer an alternative. The harder they push for what they want, the more likely it is that they will try to scam you. It is a sad state of affairs here, folks. I get it. I’m touch starved and horny af over here but I’m also not trying to fuck over the hard work I’ve put into getting my credit where it is now or risking my home or life in the name of getting laid. Below are some infographics I found useful, I hope you do too:

At least Tinder has a way to verify profiles now, so I will only be interacting with verified users going forward on there. They are also introducing a background check option (for a fee of course). I tried using Spokeo to look up their phone numbers (it’s a dollar) but what the hell is with being unable to look up phone numbers these days?! Googling their very common names came up with nothing. One blocked me before I could report them. I took screenshots of their profiles though. I really don’t mess around with this shit. And this is all before an actual date to meet is set.

When I know I am going to meet someone IRL I will gather what info I have and give to a friend, even checking in on Facebook or giving a friend the address of wherever I’m going to be. Never travel to a second location or get into their car on the first date (I have done this when I felt comfortable with the person, but I do not believe I ever will again). And it never hurts to brush up on some self defense techniques. I know it’s shitty to have to worry about all of this while looking for love, but this is the world we live in. I wish everyone much success in their love life, but more so, just stay as safe as you possibly can.

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I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
<3
S

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