Have you ever sent or been tempted to send money to anyone that you ‘met’ over the internet?
If they have sent money they will likely lie as somewhere deep down they knew that this wasn’t real. They are so lonely that they will do anything to take away the pain, even be in an imaginary relationship. Which is why it is called a “lonely heart scam” I suppose.
It used to be parents worried about their kids picking up sketchy people at the bar but now it is the kids who need to be worried about their lonely parents picking up sketchy people on the internet.
I can’t believe I am blogging about this but it is very real and a client of mine has lost in the hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars over the past handful of years to a man she knew and trusted. In her mind anyways, she knew and trusted him. He called her on the phone many times when life was rough so he must be one of the good ones, right? He wouldn’t lie, right? The money she loaned him WILL be returned, right?
Wrong. The policewoman we spoke to shut down any glimmer of hope (from watching too many TV shows I admit I had a teeny tiny glimmer of hope) that anything could be recovered. She also advised us that the scam happens a LOT and my client is not alone in what she did. Except she is as there is no support for someone like my client. We got sent on our way with instructions to put together a police report in writing. Not the police’s fault but there is nothing that can be done.
Oh, and I have to back this up as she is no longer a ‘client’ per se as she is now no longer able to purchase her final home in Saskatoon. Yep, she lost it all. Those of you who know me though know I wouldn’t abandon someone in that state. Luckily I am not an old widower as I would likely fall for this scam. Kidding, I have a lot of street smarts but it can happen to anyone. Most of us judge and wonder ‘who could be so stupid??’ to fall for this? The victims ask themselves the same thing AFTER they have lost their retirements and sometimes their homes and most will admit they have a gut feeling. The stories these people come up with are quite incredible, they provide documents to support the lie and sound legit to those who want to believe.
It makes me sick that people are getting away with this and that it can happen to someone you know and care about.
So please, ask the people in your life no matter how awkward it is. Be sure to bring these scams up and bring them up often as the scam artists are smart and switch them up. It is their JOB to be smart and to scour the internet for people who are easy targets. Ask your mom, grandma, aunts, great-aunts, uncles etc etc as you would be amazed who falls for this. Older women tend to trust easily and follow with their hearts not their heads. Many can’t fathom that these ‘men’ they are talking to are from places like Nigeria or Ghana. They think they are talking to someone who is in Canada or the US.
It may seem ridiculous but as a REALTOR® in Saskatoon I have had my eyes opened to what lengths people will go to in trying to steal and launder money. I have had some of my Saskatoon houses for sale used for the purpose of stealing money from unsuspecting would-be tenants by online scams. DO NOT, EVER send money to someone you have not met in the flesh no matter how much you have spoken to them on the phone or via facebook, email, etc. Loneliness is a human condition and social media is the perfect forum for these people to find them and possibly prey on someone you love.
We have to take care of our elders in these times so, no matter how awkward it is, have the conversation and make sure they aren’t at risk. If you think they are sending someone money then you need to take them to the police station, talk to a lawyer, the bank, etc. In this situation even the bank manager had a bad feeling about it but was unable to convince the victim that she should not send the money.
Please share this post and remind others to look out for lonely people in their lives. If we can prevent one person from becoming homeless or losing everything due to a lonely or broken heart it is worth the awkward questions.
Saskatoon real estate agent
Century 21 Fusion