We all know Neil Sedaka's song about how hard it is to break up with someone we love. We fall in love for all sorts of reasons and many times it is one-sided at best. When both partners have declared their undying love for one another, the breakup that follows can feel as though you have been totally destroyed forever. But what about when you find out that the person who has sworn to love you and marry you turns out not to even be real? Oh there are times when we start to figure out that someone we know personally wasn't really the kind of person we thought they were. But in a Nigerian type romance scam, it's a totally different scenario. And unfortunately, even your best friends or family members may never understand what you are going through or how it could ever have happened to you in the first place. That is, unless it happens to them too.
All of us believe we are too savvy to get caught up in something online so sinister and devious as a romance scam. But it is often just that kind of thinking that gets us trapped even deeper, or keeps us trapped because we just don't want to admit to ourselves or our loved ones that we had been fooled so badly. Does this make us fools? Hardly! These scammers are so good at their "jobs" of convincing us they are really who they claim to be that it is hard for us sometimes to dispute what they say. They have photos, Facebook and MySpace profiles, hefty friends' lists complete with family members listed, and lots more. They sometimes have their webcams that just don't work right but for those brief moments you can see something in the cam that looks like the photo they sent you. It just has to be real! Or does it?
So, okay, you now realize that this person you thought was real, might not be real after all. What do you do now? It's break-up time. It's that time in the relationship where you have to say your good-byes. Only this time, it's not because you caught your real guy cheating on you or that you just fell out of love. It's not that you were arguing all the time or your paths were just not going in the same directions anymore. No, this time it's that this other "person" you have given your heart to doesn't even exist anywhere on the planet! It's like reading a romance novel and falling in love with the hero or heroine of the story. It's like falling in love with a movie character portrayed by a good looking actor. It's just not real at all. Only it's much much worse than any of that. This "person" was responding to you, carrying on an ongoing conversation with you for weeks, maybe months or even a year or more. This "person" was so perfectly matched for you and you couldn't believe how wonderful they were...except suddenly they started having little financial problems that grew bigger and bigger, and only you could help them. They depended totally on you because no one else could take care of those problems. Your love depended on your help and if you didn't help you were made to feel horribly guilty. And afraid. What would happen to this love of your life if you didn't do something to help when they needed you the most? What if they died? Or ended up in jail? Or could never get home to you? So of course you did what you could to help. And then everything comes crashing down on you and you find out that the love of your life was nothing more than a set of stolen photographs, webcam videos, and a lot of well-written lines of love. Oh okay, maybe not so well-written.
What happens when you find yourself breaking up with nobody?
What happens when you find out the beautiful woman you were falling in love with was just a group of young black men in Nigeria or Ghana pretending to be this woman?
What happens when this too-good-to-be-true man you counted on to be your husband turns out to be a wisp of smoke, a character out of your worst nightmare come true?
The day you realize you have no choice but to delete and block this person from all further contact online and by phone is the day you feel like everything inside you just died. Breaking up with a ghost. How do you do that? Especially a ghost who won't let you go?
The moderators and members of Scams of the Heart understand what you are going through. We've all been through it ourselves. Some of us have lost great sums of money while others have lost nothing more than their self-esteem and ability to trust others. All of us have had our hearts broken no matter what else happened. We've all had to deal with friends and family members who just don't understand. Many of us have had the unhappy experience of waiting for a love at the airport only to realize nobody was going to show up. Just another ghost of a relationship that never really existed. Many have paid for medical bills for procedures that never took place. Some have bailed their lover out of jail when there was no lover and no jail to be bailed out of. Others had the difficult experience of getting involved with a real person who only wanted to get a green card out of the relationship, or maybe even more than just the green card. Some of us have paid for actual real medical treatments for real people who only used us for what they could get out of us before we figured them out. But one thing we all have in common is this. The relationships were not real.
Everyday we learn of new ways these romance scammers con us into believing they love us only to find out they are actually after our money or other benefits. This is Halloween season, the season of ghosts and ghouls and other things that go bump in the night. If you are dealing with a ghost of a romance scam, let us help you. Halloween is just the beginning of the biggest holiday season of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the other holidays around the world taking place in the next couple of months. We know how the scammers use these holidays to make promises to come "home" to us and be a family. Don't go wait at the airport for a ghost this year. Come talk to us in the chat room, or join our email group if you are more comfortable with that. Either way, we are here for you. cp