My blog buddy, Bryan over at A Beer For The Shower is here to make my post ever so much funnier than anything I could write by myself. He's also the brilliant creator of the cartoons. Please give him a standing O.
Okay, you can sit down now.
What you're about to read are the Dos and Don'ts to identify a scammer: Robin's Personal Top 10 List of How To Save Your 401K From The Online Man Of Your Dreams You'll Never Meet.
Chances are, if you're reading this, you're NOT the person being scammed. Why? People who are being scammed absolutely refuse to believe they are the victim of a scam. I know. My mom has been pursued by numerous scammers. Let me share my (I mean Mom's) credentials to validate that I can absolutely recognize a scammer from twelve inches (the approximate distance of my nose to my computer monitor).
Brief Descriptions of the Scammers Who've Approached Mom:
Scammer #1 - Lives in Atlanta. After a couple of weeks of IM and Phone Calls he had to leave for Malaysia for a JOB (because that’s where people go to work). As soon as he arrives in Malaysia: FINANCIAL CRISIS. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
Scammer #2 - Forgot where he lived (happens to the best of us). Currently in CO buying furniture for his business. He's robbed* and FINANCIAL CRISIS. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
*Bryan, who lives in Colorado, can confirm that he’s robbed CONSTANTLY**
Scammer #3 - Lived in S. FL. A meeting is scheduled, but the day before the meet he must fly to TX because his son needs a heart transplant, and FINANCIAL CRISIS. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
Scammer #4 - Ironically, #3 and #4 happened simultaneously. These two knew each other. #4 referred her to #3 (not knowing they were already talking) because #3 supposedly worked to help women who'd been already scammed… for the miserly fee of $10K. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
Scammer #5 - Lived in CA. Wanted to relocate to wherever his true love lived. Who knew it would be here? However, as a geologist he had to leave for work in Malaysia (because again, that’s where everybody goes to work) and FINANCIAL CRISIS. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
Scammer #6 - Native of France. Lived in Boca Raton, FL as a renter. Ran a business to fix cruise ships (sounds legit). Wanted to meet mom, but had to leave for Australia for work and FINANCIAL CRISIS. SEND ME ALL UR MONEY PLZ.
I bet you can already see a pattern. But sadly, if it's happening to your mother (or friend), I promise you she can't/won't see it. She’s dazzled by all of those super sexy emails promising to spoil her rotten and love her up and down (gross). Not to mention buy her a new house, new car, and the new Whatever The Hell She Wants because he makes Big Bucks! So, it's up to you to recognize that your loved one is being scammed. Lucky for you, I've been through this six times (sigh) over the past two years. I'm a freakin' expert.
I've got 10 Simple Tips to help you determine if your mom's potential spouse is really just looking to get into her pants (to filch her wallet).
1) If your mother shows you the profile of her new online boyfriend and he is twenty years younger than she is, don't be alarmed. Your mom is just a babealicious babe. No, wait, actually be alarmed. Your mom is the Perfect Target, and it's not normal for a rich, good looking man in his mid-50s to salivate after a woman in her 70s.
2) If your mother's boyfriend is widowed. I know this seems innocuous, but my mom has been romanced by six different scammers. Not a divorcee in the bunch. It probably helps play on sympathy. Either that, or it’s the rich symbolism that he’s about to rip his mate’s head off like a black widow.
3) If your mother's potential new mate has a foreign accent, is an engineer or contractor, and doesn't live anywhere near her.
4) If your mother's new man has a first and last name that are actually two first names. For example, Steve Samuel, Richard Mark, Wayne Michael. Anything that sounds like it was either created by a 5 year old or someone who’s never been to America.
5) If, after your mom insists on a face-to-face meeting, he instantly must leave the country for a) work or b) a sick relative or c) that small child that fell down a well. Whatever the crappy excuse, it’ll happen the very instant she’s ready to meet.
6) If he must depart the country for work, your new love is very likely to meet up with many unexpected catastrophes. Like there’s an import tax of which he was previously unaware, but fortunately for you it only requires you sending him $5K to get his stuff back so he can get to work. After he succeeds in getting this money, expect every possible crisis to soon follow. Not enough equipment. Equipment is ruined and must be replaced. He gets a six figure check but cannot cash it due to the fees imposed by the bank. He can't send it to his own bank because they don't accept check by mail. Additionally, everyone in his family has sold their homes and the dog to try and get his ass back home. You, and you alone, are his last hope.
7) The good news is that he has a six figure check, so he can reimburse your mother immediately. I mean, he'd totally help her out of a jam if the roles were reversed…
8) Your mother's man might have his lawyer correspond with her to confirm that Her Man is in very real, very dire circumstances that can all be alleviated with one small, or not so small, check. Or he might introduce her to a family member if she hesitates at sending the money. This person, if they're very good, will tell her not to send it if she doesn't have it, but reassure her that said family member is the "most honest person they know."
9) If you become suspicious of your mom's knight in shining armor, there are sites you can use to determine the likelihood of a scam. Copy/paste some of those sweet words he sent your mother in an email. (Word of warning: It is painful reading this sugary sexpot stuff. Perhaps you should pop some pills or drink a bottle of Jack, or both, before never being able to look at dear ol’ mom the same way again.) If you find that same message word-for-word on the internet, chances are your mom's honeypot didn't write it. Either that, or he did write it… and then sent it to about 1,000,000 people.
10) Scammers use, and by use I mean steal, other people's pictures as their own. If your mother is corresponding with a man embodying all of the aforementioned traits, run his pictures through Google Images. For the non-savvy computer user 1) Click on Google Images 2) Click on the camera 3) Click on upload picture from your computer (if that's where you have it saved). Then wait. If the boyfriend pops up as someone else on social media, he just might not be who he says he is… regardless of dear cousin Mary vouching that “he is most honest person that is knowing.”
While all of this is presented with humor, the facts are TRUE. If someone you care about is dating on-line, they are in the sights of salivating scammers. I hope these 10 tips help your mother avoid the pitfalls of falling prey to their ruse. Unless you just came from Bryan's blog, use the link at the top of this blog to run over their posthaste. I promise you won't be sorry!
Cheers and Stay Classy, Friends,
Robin and Bryan
Drinking: Red wine out of the box
Listening: Barenaked Ladies