Was the magical guy Jenny was describing her knight in shining armour or a low life conman?
I have been asking in my mind since the day I overheard a conversation in a small ladies clothing store near my home. There is a high probability that if Jenny does not wise up fairly quickly that she may become one of the many thousands of women who get drawn in by a charming shonk who promises love and so much more.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are given by unsuspecting men and women all over the world to people they believe are deeply in love with them. Highly intelligent and usually cautious women have kicked themselves and felt embarrassed, humiliated and heartbroken when they have discovered the man they thought was so very special was in fact a complete fraudster and that she was in fact just one of the many women he had lured into a honey trap.
I haven’t met Jenny but I am worried for her emotional and financial safety. I walked into the store, on the way to the supermarket, and was drawn to a lovely poncho style top, that caught my eye. I asked the lady in the shop to hold it at the counter for me while I continued looking around.
As I slowly strolled the small store, looking at the specials rack, I listened to a lady (Jenny) chatting to one of the shop assistants. After she had told 5 minutes or so of the story, the second shop lady, I think the owner of the store, came in and then three of them were in conversation.
Jenny, (I heard the store lady use her name), was happily telling the ladies about the ‘wonderful’ man she is in a relationship with. I remember hearing Jenny say (not in this exact order):
He is amazing, like nobody I have met before
I have known him 5 months and we have met 3 times because he has just been so busy
He was married but one day he came home from a business trip early and found his wife in bed, with his best friend
Because of the immense pain he went through with his wife, he is really cautious about who he gets involved with and that he needs to make sure I am the real deal
He bought me this beautiful diamond ring
He is so very busy, he is an importer so he travels around the world and is hardly ever home
He is tired of all the travel and wants to settle down and build a house
He has a strong accent
He is from South Africa (I think she said that, there was definitely a mention of SA)
He has to travel to Malaysia soon and he is going to take me with him to stay in a fancy place
He is such a romantic, he calls or contacts me everyday
He says the most loving and romantic things
He is very handsome (showing the ladies a photo), I am such a lucky girl
Then the next bit I wasn’t sure exactly but it was something like:
His ex wife got pregnant and then ended up leaving her child as she was such a bad mother, and
I’ve got a house but he wants us to build something together
My husband died about 7 years ago and I’ve been single since
I am cautious and was skeptical so I got the ring checked and it is a real diamond, 1.2karat, so I know he is for real – I am just really spoilt and lucky
I heard the store ladies comment on her ring and on how handsome he was as she proudly showed them his photo. One of the ladies asked “Where did you meet him?” to which Jenny replied, after a pause, “Oh, we met through some friends.”
As I heard more of the story unfold I began to feel concerned. Trust me, I don’t want to rain on Jenny’s parade and I absolutely, positively hope and wish that this guy is for real. I would love to discover that I have read this situation wrong. I hope that he loves her as much as she says he does and that he is going to treat her like a princess and they build their house together and live happily ever after.My police background, along with teaching professionals to encourage more truth and spot deception in high stake interviews has alerted me to the high number of dodgy people that are out there and the lengths they are willing to go to get what they want. I began looking more into deception in the dating and relationship scene and I last year I developed a program to help women avoiding the time wasting or heartbreaking aspects of the search.
I have learnt that when we want to believe something, we can miss the obvious signs of deception. We can even become ‘love blind’.
Jenny looked to be in her late early or mid 60’s, a shorter well presented lady. She had a bright personality and she seemed intelligent and confident in her style of speaking. The store ladies had met her before, they said she lives a few hours away but comes to the area on occasion.
Initially I was just drawn in to overhearing a romantic love story, but about half way into the story I started to hear warning bells.
Here’s where I am kicking myself. I thought about interrupting her story and alerting her to a possible scam. Then I heard her say to the ladies that she was cautious and she had done some checks and everything was ok. Even after hearing that, my gut feel was still alerting me. While I was contemplating what I would say without bursting her excited bubble, or rudely interfering in her life, she paid for her goods and happily left the store.
I arrived at the counter and saw the shop ladies glance at each other with a look of concern which led to me initiating a conversation with them. They both said it sounded too good to be true, but that Jenny seemed an intelligent lady so they are sure she won’t do anything too rash.
I told the ladies about my background and that I had spoken to and interviewed women who have been victims of similar situations. I have also read about situations that sounded almost identical to the story Jenny was telling.
They nodded and said they hope for her sake he is not dodgy and it would be lovely if everything she said was true. As I left the store, I was still feeling bad that I didn’t say something to Jenny. I asked the store ladies if they knew which way she went, but they were unsure – perhaps outside toward the car park or possibly she went in the direction I was now heading, to the supermarket.
I was distracted from shopping as I searched the aisles for Jenny but she was nowhere in sight. As I headed for the car park I dropped in to the clothing store and asked the ladies how often they see her. They said they think she lived a few hours away and only occasionally comes in.
I left my mobile number and they said the more they reflected on what they heard, the more they agreed it would be good to follow up the situation further if Jenny comes back into the store. They admitted they were nervous to say anything to her at the time for fear of putting a black cloud over her fairytale story. They said they now both feel concerned and more confident to alert Jenny to the suspicion that this man may not be who he says he is.
I plan to take some extra steps to see if I can track her down and maybe just give her a couple of ideas re checking this guy, before she gets in any deeper. There are hundreds of stories of people, both men and women, who have groomed their victims for weeks, months and years, before they begin to reap what they have sown.
There are stories of expensive gifts given and sob stories told that play on the emotional needs of someone who is seeking to be loved and to give their love and care for someone. These con men and women ARE so very convincing. Their stories ARE so consistent and believable, usually because they have used them before and are very practiced. These people do this for a living.
Imagine how good they can get at it if this is all they do everyday. Some have extensive data bases and tracking mechanisms to keep track of who they are talking to and what lies they have spun to them so far.
The lesson for me, and for the ladies in the store is to SPEAK out from the heart if your warning bells are ringing. When we hear a story like this and every part of us wants to say what we think we experience our own truth dilemma. That is the challenge that comes with disguising, disclosing or discovering the truth.
On reflection, not saying something has caused me more of a dilemma. Jenny may well have told me to ‘mind my own business’ or that she has done her own checks. Or perhaps having a stranger point out something she was blind to could save her from future financial or emotional fraud.
If something seems to good to be true – often that is the case. If you find yourself in this space, beware. Invest effort in checking, ideally through someone who checks these cases for a living. Doing your own checks usually won’t be enough, because the fraudsters will have covered their tracks well enough and planted enough dummy information out there to fool most people.
Good luck Jenny – I hope your man with a strong accent and good looks is for real and that I got it wrong. You deserve a wonderful partner who sees the great in you and brings you much love and joy.