Romance scam.

Started by

My mother has recently become involved with a man who I am certain is a criminal. It's terribly blatant but yet she is not willing to see the truth. I don't know how to convince her. It is so obvious to everyone else that he is a scam artist and very likely operating from Nigeria. So far he has asked her to send him an iPhone and then in another email he asked her to empty her account and put cash in the pocket of some pants and then send the pants and some T-shirts to him via FedEx to an address in Dubai. She is actually convinced that when he's done his business in Dubai he's going to come here and meet her and they're going to go look for an apartment together. She's been the victim of fraud once before and lost a lot of money and I'm really just in shock that she's falling for this. I reported it to the police and I even filled out a complaint form on an Internet website that the Federal Bureau of investigation runs. I can't even talk to her right now because all we do is argue. She truly believes that this man is legitimate.

11 Comments

Hmmmmm.
Lbocko, go onto Dr. Phil's website and look for "catfishing" and have your Mom watch these shows. Dr. Phil has done quite a few of them.
I don't know if Interpol would get involved, but you could contact them and see. You can also do research on the Nigerian scam and show it to your mother.

This has been such a common scam for years that I wonder if there are task forces created either at the national or international level to address this.

If local law enforcement could help you find out how to get background information on this man (although he probably uses a fake name), perhaps you could show that to your mother. But I know it's hard to convince someone who WANTS to believe in having found a potential friend.

As I understand, the Nigerian scam typically escalates to the point that the victim is requested to actually go abroad to meet the scammer and deliver money. Watch out for that step.

The underlying issue though is why people (not just seniors) actually believe these scammers. I know that elders often feel they want to help people, perhaps financially since they're not able any more to offer physical help to those in need. This can make them susceptible to charities as well as criminals.

I think sometimes if a local need can be identified for a senior to donate to, such as food pantries, etc., that might at least rechannel the financial contributions.

I'm wondering also if you could find outlets for social activities, if this might help what could be loneliness. Do you think she'd get involved in charitable work, if she's physically able to get around to, say, help sort food for distribution by charities....something along that line?
Lbocko, did he find her on the internet? I would be tempted to disrupt her internet connection somehow. But she would probably just call in the service people. Is she interested in the man romantically? or is it just a charity thing? If it is a hopeful romantic thing, the ego can be quite strong. The man sees something in her and it would be too painful to admit that he was playing her the fool. To approach this, you have to have her see things in a way that she can preserve her ego.

Sometimes I think our widowed mothers need men in their lives, if only to protect them from folly. I know my mother looks forward to seeing her "boyfriend" on Sundays even though he has never shown romantic interest in her. It does her good, though, to have a male presence in her life. I was thinking about a male presence for your mother. Are there any possibilities out there if her interest in the scammer is romantic? Maybe a male friend can distract her mind.
How computer savvy is your mom? Did she find him via facebook? While showing interest in this friend find a way to block him either on FB or through her email client.
Jessie's comments gave me a thought (only per day, that's my limit) - turn the romance issue around. If you're creative and have photoshop, or maybe just do some searching and find the most unattractive man you can find, long messy hair, unshaven, mean look, rotten teeth or missing teeth, slovenly....something that would cause even an animal to rear in fear.

Then create a poster with this guy's name, and add some 'WANTED" charges for scams, financial extortion, maybe even violence, repeated misrepresentations to women that he'll meet them and they'll live happily ever after. Create all the nasty criminal charges you can thing of without scaring her so much that she becomes paranoid, but just wants to dump him.
Oh Garden thats perfect. Make her want to get rid of him. Great idea
If you have the address where he wants the pants filled with cash sent to, i'd send a small package with a note from local police that say we've got you! It wouldnt cost much and may be enough to make him move on. But make sure to report to as many athorities as you can. Its so sad that people fall for these scams, even smart people do, I dont understand how they do it but boy they must work because the emails just keep coming.
Just a thought, but all the banks have signs warning about these scams here in our area.. could you have someone at the bank talk to her about this? This may make a bigger impression on her. They could say they got an alert or something and just wanted to make sure their "best customers" were aware and safe... make her feel special and protected and cared about?
We almost never answer the phone unless we know the number, but Mom is old school and thinks you need to answer every call "in case".. so sometimes I get the scam call,,, you know,, the IRS, FBI.. you name it. I admit I sometimes play along,, then send the convo into the twilight zone.. Hee hee! LIke obviously foriegn person named John Smith ... I have been sooo cussed out, yelled out.. I kind of think it;s funny. But I can see where they intimidate people. But the funniest one I heard to handle this is.. either give the phone to your toddler, or very confused elder...and leave it on speaker...
Pam, that's a great idea. One of the bankers could even express concern over the funds she's been sending, indicating that one of the target monitoring mechanisms flagged her account because of the funds transfers to overseas accounts. Bankers won't lie, but they can couch their concern in terms that would indicate their concern for the disbursements.

And it would come from someone other than you, so Mom might listen more carefully.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support