Online dating horrors (A true PSA)

In December 2012, I decided I had been single long enough and had moved on enough from my last relationship to get back into the dating game.  Since I had no desire to be hooked up by my friends (since it didn’t work out so well the last time) I figured I would take the plunge and join Match.com.

I filled out the online form, changed my introduction about a million times before submitting the written portion along with a couple of photo’s that were at least somewhat flattering (I tend to make really stupid faces when people are pointing a camera at me).

The first couple of weeks were a complete bust.  As I sat at Crazy Cat Lady’s house making fun of the men I was matched with (really a wrestler – no thank you) I was feeling like I would be single forever because none of the men were catching my eye.  I had something negative to say about all of them (hint – guys don’t put pics of yourselves with ex girlfriends and just crop their bodies out – we can tell and you with your shirt off, cover that shit up).  Crazy Cat Lady was thoroughly enjoying my misadventures and by the time Christmas rolled around I was ready to cancel my subscription and move on with my life single.

Christmas Eve I checked my matches and there was a picture of a cute guy whose username was lexwr774848.  He described himself as 37, divorced father of 1.  Self-employed of Irish decent looking to find love again.  Affectionate and caring, loves bowling, baseball etc etc.  Sounded pretty good and he had a really kind smile so I winked.  A few hours later he winked back and sent me a message with his email address.  I emailed him wishing him a Merry Christmas and the emailing continued back and forth a couple of times a day every single day afterwards.

ImageThis is the picture on his MATCH profile

We would email long drawn out stories about our lives and sometimes just short little tidbits saying hi and hoping the other had a great day.  It was romantic.  He told me all about his son Neal who was 9 and lived with his mother, but whom he got to see every 4th day and spoke to every morning.  His sister Kathy lived in Ireland still and she was his best friend.  His father was a jerk who left the family when he and Kathy were young and his mom had relocated to London and he spoke to her every couple of days.  He visited Ireland every year because that’s where he has his roots.

He told me he worked in construction for the past three years, but recently moved into self employment supplying construction material to overseas work sites.  Now I am sure he explained this better in the emails, but since I have no clue about this industry I didn’t pay to close attention and didn’t ask many questions as I am sure I would just get totally lost.

When I left for Cuba on January 12th he started texting me since I wouldn’t be checking my email while away.  We texted every day while I was away, planning to meet soon after I returned.  We were both extremely excited – after all the flirting for a month, I was eager to see if there would be actual chemistry with this man.  He had sent me two other pics and I had sent him a couple of pics as well.

ImageThis was my favourite picture of him

Two days before I came home from Cuba he told me there was an issue and had to travel for work and would message me when he could.  I heard from him this past Monday night.  He was in Benin Republic (Africa) and customs was giving his crew a hard time and not letting the machines come through.  He was having long days and just couldn’t wait to come home and see my smile.  What a sweetheart right?  At this point I was smiling constantly, checking my email’s regularly.  BUT, at the same time, I had a weird feeling in my stomach (other than the nasty flu bug I brought home with me from Cuba).

I told my suspicions to my security guard at work and D told me to send him a pic and he would reverse image online and let me know what was up – he didn’t like the sound of the whole thing as there was a few scams going around western Africa with men praying on North American women.  However, I had no real reason to be concerned.

Until Wednesday night.  Wednesday night he sent me a long email complaining of customs and how they needed an extra $3000 until everything would pass and his mom and sister could only scrape together $1500 and he needed another $1500.  He said his ex-wife wouldn’t help and he was afraid he would be stuck there longer if he couldn’t get the extra $1500.

Could I help?

I almost spit out my water from laughing so hard – I knew in my heart I was being scammed right then and there.  I told him no, I had no money from my laser eye surgery and my trip and I was in no place to help him.  I decided to play nice – until I had more proof.   He emailed me yesterday morning saying no problem he understood, he’d figure something out and then asked how my Zumba class had gone.

I didn’t reply right away.

I took another of his pictures and reverse imaged in on google. To do a reverse image check on someone go here: http://images.google.com/imghp?hl=en  The first item to come up when I downloaded his photo – www.romancescam.com

There were all of his pictures with women talking all about James Howard, and sample emails he had sent them – emails that were WORD FOR WORD THE EXACT SAME AS EMAILS I HAD.  I immediately replied back with his new name (Alex Howard) and told them my story with him.

I think we all assume he is an African man living in or around Benin Republic.  I have posted his pictures so any woman on dating sites that see this picture will be warned to stay far away.  I have also emailed Match.com even though his profile is no longer present because they must have a credit card for him.  I also have the phone number he gave me.  (646) 493-1227.

Alex 2This is the final picture I have of him

I am blogging about this foolishness because online dating scams are real – they are not just horror stories you see on tv.  If I was any other woman, I may have given him the money just to get him back home to me.  What he didn’t bank on was me not really needing him in my life, just liking the idea of him in it.  I am asking all my readers who blog to make a link to this story in their blogs so all women can beware of this horror.  Tell your friends who are online dating, tell your mothers and sisters and aunts and nieces who are looking for that special someone online.  This is an incredibly prevalent problem.  This is a paid dating site – it is not just the free sites where these scams take place.  I will be removing my profile in the next day or two as I am no longer interested in meeting strangers.  If I am meant to be single, then so be it – if not, then I will meet my man the old fashion way – face to face!

I emailed Alex/James to let him know I knew everything and that his mother would be deeply ashamed of him, that he is pathetic and blah blah blah – nothing I am sure he hasn’t heard from many other women time and time again.  Needless to say he never responded…huh shocker!

I am grateful I am the strong, independent woman I am, I am grateful for my friends (and security guard) for having my best interests at heart and for protecting me when I needed it most.    If anyone reading this wants or needs more information, please just comment and I will reply to you ASAP

Don’t worry about me now, I am good.  Now that I am safe and my money is safe I am relieved.  I just want to warm as many people as possible!

XOXO Nikilee

P.S This man in the picture is PROBABLY not the scammer.  He is probably some poor sap who had his photos lifted from facebook or flickr or some other social media site.  If you happen to know the man in the picture – pls tell

 

***************just went on Match.com cause I was bored and I saw JROBB1060 with the same pics I have!!!  This guy never gives up and Match clearly isn’t doing anything to stop him since I sent them his pictures**************