Saturday, July 6, 2013

Meet Soraya Grant

Soraya Grant (Soraya if you meet her in the chat room) is the online pen name of our volunteer staff writer and American romance scams peer support contact. Soraya has been verified by our moderators and is only using a pen name because her full, real name is used for a business she runs via the web. Soraya will be happy to use her real first name in private chats and in any email correspondences with other members. Soraya is not a therapist or mental health professional of any kind. She is just someone who wishes to help us help others.

Soraya was scammed by an American. She knows the real name and a few real details of someone who was either the only scammer, or the main scammer in the group, information that was verified when she independently researched this person, learned the business' phone numbers, and called his desk at his office.

Soraya learned that the relationship was a scam after she stumbled upon a marriage announcement for this man and another woman five months into what she believed was her own relationship with him. At first, Soraya still thought it was a real person and a real relationship. She thought her boyfriend had merely been cheating on her with someone from his hometown and decided to marry this other woman instead, while still carrying on an online affair with her. When she sadly confided this information to an online female friend from the same chat room, Soraya learned that he had been carrying on an identical relationship with this woman, who said she was only sixteen years old.

Because the girl was under eighteen, Soraya submitted all the real details she had been given to an online predator reporting group, and returned to the chat room, where she discovered a third woman who also believed herself to be this man's girlfriend. The third woman refused to accept that she had been scammed. Soraya no longer saw the nickname her scammer used, so she attempted to remain a member of the support chat, despite the fact that the moderators refused to believe that romance scammers had gotten into their room. A few weeks after she discovered she had been scammed, she spoke with another woman who told her that this same person was in fact still in the chat room, and had approached her in the same way he approached the other women. He had just taken to pretending to be much younger. The fourth woman was in her twenties and not underage, but Soraya still reported the situation to the moderators, and demanded something be done about a person running a romance scam in their support chat. She found herself harassed and then banned instead.

Soraya refers to her scam as a "copycat Nigerian scam" because other than the location of the scammer, they were nearly identical. Like all scammers, the man (and possibly friends he was working with) created characters and used them to trick women into believing they were in romantic relationships with him. The character he presented to Soraya was poor and hinted strongly for money. The character he presented to the younger girl was wealthy and told her he had already bought her real diamond earrings. That particular scam was discovered before he could send the package, but he was likely planning to send them to her as a test to see if she'd accept packages. That's the normal first step for a reshipping scam, in which the scammer uses the victim to accept and reship materials that turn out to be illegal.

Soraya is here to help all victims of romance scams and will be happy to offer support to everyone in the chat room. She just has a special place in her heart for those scammed by Americans and is extending a special invitation for victims of American scammers to reach out to her. She also hopes everyone finds her writing both informative and comforting.

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