“The events you’re about to read are true, only the names of have been changed..”, kinda reminds me of something you might hear from the tv-show, ‘Dragnet‘. Well, in this case it was yet another situation where “she seemed so nice” on the phone. But as my Mom told me years ago, “They all seem nice, at first.” Here is this man’s story.. we’ll call him ‘Kevin’. (used with permission)
I’ll begin by sharing with you the emails that brought his plight to my attention. Here is his account and my response via our e-mail correspondence;
My name is Kevin and I live in the California! I met a Filipina lady on the phone, she is a customer service rep for a vendor I do business with, she was working in the city of Cebu. I only wished I had found your website earlier because this woman ran the ‘Damsel in Distress Con’ on me and I have to say, she was very convincing! But I’ll survive because she only got me for $545.00 USD. Now I could make life miserable for her by contacting her company corporate office, but should I just let this matter go, or try to do something about the fraud that her and probably other co-workers are doing in that office? I’ll appreciate your opinion on this Henry, thank you so much. Sad and disappointed in California — Kevin
Damn, so sorry to hear that. Usually it’s the girls without a job who do this sort of thing, but just recently a friend of mine was drugged by a girl he met online who has a job over on Mactan. In his case since he’s in-country for only 3 weeks I told him it was best he just cut his losses, enjoy the rest of his vacation and not hassle with the police because he wouldn’t be around to press charges anyway. Plus she might retaliate on him physically while he’s here.
In your case you are safe 1,000s of miles away. It comes down to principle for me. For one thing, she took your money by lying. For another, she’ll do it to another guy again if she’s not reported. What I would suggest is making a few calls to the Supervisor of her work area there in Cebu, or to a central office. Tell them plainly what the facts are and that while you realize there is nothing you can do about it, you feel they should be informed that such an action reflects on your experience with that particular vendor as a company.
If she gets fired, believe me.. she’s gonna regret screwing you over. Jobs are hard to come by in the Philippines. But she’ll have no one to blame but herself. Who knows how many other guys she’s done this to, so maybe she’s even already on probation from earlier complaints. If it were me, I’d make a formal complaint and then leave it at that.
Thank you for your swift reply. Sir that is darn good advise I think and it is pretty close to what I was thinking as well. The company has a fraud department, but I like your idea better. She had told me about something in her Cebu office that happened about a month ago. I have no idea if it is actually true, because she could have been trying to build my confidence in her as being trust worthy? She told me that another girl there was copying credit card numbers and over billing clients then pocketing the difference. So it sounds like there could be a lot of criminal action in her office as well.
Reekay, this woman really caught me off guard, but my friend I have to say it could have been much worse because she wanted me to send her an engagement ring too! I tell you Henry, I wonder about people in this world, but it just takes time to get to know the right people! I’ll still make a vacation trip to the Philippines because I know it is a lovely place and there are good people everywhere. I really appreciate you getting back to me right away and it’s good to know there are people like you out there helping other people with these tragic issues. I could not see what was happening to me and like I said I only wish I had found your website before all this happened. I thank you so much sir because it brings some perspective to something that is also very painful and hard to take. She is a damn good liar, but when you see the truth, wow it’s like breathing fresh air. I also think that she has done this before to other men because she is just to good at it and really had her game down good. OK thank you again Henry I think I’ll do what you suggested and see what happens. I send you a follow up message. Thanks for getting back to me!
[the following day..]
I hope that you are well and doing good today? Henry it did not take long at all my friend and here is what happened all in one day concerning this scam! Wednesday morning @ 9:00am California time on 7/24/13 I called the company’s fraud department in the USA. The lady I talked to was extremely nice and listened to everything I had to say about this scam. After a full explanation of the events including account numbers she told me that I was doing the right thing by reporting the scam to them. She told me that she would contact the Philippines vendor management at Cebu Business Center about the problem! I thanked her and went about my day.
This afternoon about 4:00pm California time I got a call from their management in the Philippines. He was also extremely nice and concerned about the issue. Basically here is what he told me, which is very close to what you told me Henry. The woman who was running the scams out of their office in Cebu was fired today and they are reporting the fraud to the Philippine authorities. You were right again because she had several men that she was scamming money from. I will be forwarding a timeline statement of events to them along with all receipts of funds transferred to her. Because she was employed by their company they may reimburse all or part of the money I was scammed out of. They told me that they wanted all my receipts concerning the transfer of funds to her along with my timeline of events.
However even if I do get my money back there is still the heartache, but at least now I know that everything she said was a lie. You know, I feel that these romance scams are right up there with burglary and auto theft. Crime of course in any form is wrong and emotionally draining. But like anything that draws on one’s emotions you keep going and look ahead to the future. I have to say Henry, you really know your stuff and if I ever meet you, lunch is on me my friend! Thank you so much for your kind and professional communications that helped me decide to do the right thing. I will always be grateful and I appreciate your help with this unfortunate matter, thank you again and take care…
Best to you, Kevin.
In ‘Kevin’s case it ended well and he may just get some of his cash back. Me, I’d be happy just knowing she’s no longer in a position to use the integrity of a major company to her own advantage any more. That job is better filled by someone with some integrity who is just looking to make an honest wage.
About ten years ago I came across a website that had videos of personal accounts from people who had been scammed online in one fashion or another. Some of them were elderly or widowed and new to the internet. In most of their cases some person had contacted them via email and convinced them they were either missionaries, models or just average people travelling abroad. Some of these con-artists began asking for money after about 2 months of building trust. One actually waited over 6 months before lowering the seniors are often targeted by his ‘sob story’ about how he was so anxious to return to the States after doing charity work overseas but.. wouldn’t you know it, he got robbed and lost his passport and travel money. He was stranded without a friend in the world destined for the streets.. unless his ‘mark’ came to his rescue.
These people are without conscience. They don’t care about or have any pity for the people they steal from. They will stoop to any story, any lie that gets them some money sent via Western Union knowing there is no recourse for the sender once it is sent. One of those video testimonies was done by the sister of the victim because, after her sister lost all her retirement savings to a con-artist.. he twisted the knife and told her in detail how she had been conned and.. despondent, she took her own life.
That’s how deeply and emotionally manipulated these con-artists work in order to reach their goal. They are all about pushing the right buttons at the right time and they are ruthless. Which is why, whenever a formal complaint can be made, as in this situation, I think it’s the least we can do in order to prevent a future victim from falling into their hands. It may not stop them, but it will put them out of commission for awhile. Sadly, I have little belief these sort of people ever just grow a conscience one day about how horrible this thing is they practice upon the unsuspecting.
Some things that are common to their practices are these items here;
One of the first things they will try to establish with the ‘mark’ (victim) is secrecy. They do not want any of the victim’s friends to know about the correspondence because their biggest fear is that someone else will alert them to the scam. So with one cover-story or another they insist the communications must be kept only between them. On Facebook for instance, the con-artist will immediately try to move the communication away from Facebook to a private email because they know it’s only a matter of time before their fake profile is banned as being fake by other people they’ve contacted. This is a major, first red-flag.
A con artist doesn’t just send an email, get on Skype or Yahoo Messenger and start asking for money. That would be too obvious. Instead they will spend some time, depending on how much of a rush they are in, sharing daily information and even photos they have gathered from someone else’s Facebook account as if they were travelling, on vacation, etc. I remember one person who tried to convince me ‘her’ fiance’ had been killed the night of their engagement party and included photos of the party. I wrote back and said, “Before you go any further.. you should really learn about American culture. Here, the bride does not wear her bridal gown and her wedding ring to the engagement party. I have contacted your ISP through your IP address, expect to be shut down and raided by Interpol very soon.” I did locate them, they were in Nigeria, not Miami as they claimed. I only added Interpol to maybe cause them to shut down for a while relocating and having to set up all new profiles again. Probably only slowed them down.
Another time a ‘model’ sent me a photo supposedly taken only an hour before as she was supposedly doing a photo-shoot in London. Problem is.. I looked up the local time in London and it had been dark for hours and the photo was taken at midday. Always question what you’re being told.
They will present themselves as either missionaries in search of a pen-pal.. or even on a dating service and when they are using someone else’s photos they may not even be female. They may be some Nigerian man or some guy in Russia or Poland faking and identity. In the case of Filipinas who go on Skype video.. they may say they are a single woman and yet all the while her husband is fully aware this is how she makes a living. Just one more reason I constantly say, “Know them IN PERSON for a period of 9 months or more before making any big decisions.” You simply cannot put any real, confirmed faith in someone who has only communicated via the Net. It is nothing less than rolling the dice to trust such people.
The Sob Story
Once they have convinced you to believe their fake identity and their fake life events, they will then begin to work on luring your feelings into their own plight. At first saying they are having some troubles but.. they worked it out themselves. Just to show that they really are out to solve their own problems without anyone’s help. But that is just primer for the big, money-making Sob Story.. the Emergency that inevitably comes up. Once they believe you care about them.. they put their entire life into your hands. Suddenly you are the only one who can save them from ruin or disaster. This is what everything before was leading to; You.. saving them.. with your money.
The Fake Check Scam
Another method of taking your money involves the person sending you a check for a large amount of money, asking you to cash it and send them only part of the money via Western Union, keeping the extra amount for yourself. They may ask it as a favor or claim it was an over-payment for something you have for sale on Craigslist or eBay. What happens is that banks must make the funds available within 3 working days, which is when you are pressured to make the withdrawal to send the con-artist their money via W.Union. However.. it can often take more than 3 days for the bank to figure out that the check was either a forgery or on a closed or stolen account. By that time you’ve already sent out the money and guess who is liable for the full amount? You. Watch some video testimonies from victims of fake check scams here.
Rinse & Repeat
Once you have helped them out.. they will repeat this process as long as the money keeps flowing. They will milk it for all it’s worth until you are dry and out of funds.
If you think someone you know is being contacted online by a shady character, share this information with them. They prey on Seniors, men on dating sites and purely random people via email, Facebook or any other social media. So many people begin their first experience on the Net and are still very naive about the dangers lurking out there. The best thing we can do is ask our parents or friends if they are seeing these red-flags of behavior from some stranger who has contacted them online and warn them to not send any money.
For Kevin, he found out before it got extremely out of hand. Some people have lost thousands of dollars before realizing they had been scammed. Keeping alert and looking out for others we know is good prevention we can do for each other.