Friday, January 4, 2013

A member's nightmare

Imagine sitting in a prison in a far away country.  We're not talking a cushy federal prison -- but a third world prison. International treaties that govern how prisoners can and should be treated are not recognized in Malaysia & human rights are non-existent. This is a country where detainees have been punched & beaten daily for a month for being caught with a cell phone. Detainees (those who have not even been tried or sentenced) can be held in solitary confinement for up to 60 days.  Initially, detainees will have virtually no exposure to the outside world, as they are denied access to family visits, books and newspapers. However, after the first two weeks, detainees will be allowed to see their families once a week, for approximately 45 minutes. For such meetings, the detainees are taken from the PRC blind-folded to a police station. Additionally, detainees will not be allowed to see their lawyers during the entire 60 day period. The detainees are restricted from access to the outside world to prevent them from leading the police on a "wild goose chase," and to enable maximum cooperation with the police. (see footnote 1)  Now imagine this is you and that you are here because you married your love, one who turned out to be a scammer.

One of our members wrote to us in December to describe her story.  She was caught up in a romance scam -- and after eight months of corresponding, made plans to marry her love.   On the sixth day of her "honeymoon", the apartment they were staying in was raided.   She was arrested along with the other wives and occupants, and while she was released eventually, the stark reality is that she ended up in a Malaysian prison because she was willing to speak to a stranger she'd met on the internet; to believe that love and marriage are possible.  

This woman is well traveled, has lived in the US and AU, and is a devout Muslim.  How did she end up here?  I asked her how she made it through this ordeal --and she responded that it was her faith that carried her through.  Allah would not take her to a place where she would not be protected.  I am in awe of such inner strength.  she was released and is putting her life back together.  She is one of the lucky ones.

The scammer in this story is awaiting deportation to Nigeria, where he has another wife and family.   He uses email addresses such as,, and  She sent the above photo in the hope that someone might recognize one of these men.  Look at this photo carefully.  These are the men who are sending the carefully crafted love letters, the sweet words we long to hear.  

What happened to "Beth" could happen to any of us.  Scammers use well documented social engineering methods to create a profile and manipulate their victims into doing and saying things they would not ordinarily do.  Some victims describe being "under a spell" and knowing that they are doing things they maybe shouldn't, but feel powerless to resist.  We send money and reship packages, never thinking it could result in legal complications. Some of us dream of marriage and happily ever after.  For certain, none of us ever expects that will end in a Malaysian prison. 

Our goal at is to help victims turn into survivors, to assist in their healing, and to educate the world about scammers.  If we've gotten your attention today, we've done all of this.  


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