Her name was Kristen White, she said, and she looked like an angel.
Make that a sexy angel.
Her Facebook friend request came out of the blue, and before you could say “Oh, wake the hell up, binky!”, she and Paul Rusher were chatting at least 10 times a day, including at night, while his (ahem!) fiancée, Rebecca Lewis, worked the night shift.
Kristen didn’t even hit him up for money.
Why would she? She was the 26-year-old daughter of a Californian millionaire.
California! Wow. He’d always dreamed of traveling the world…
No problem, Kristen replied: she was due to inherit a ton of money. They could go on a trip – together.
There was just one… (OK, I know that you know what’s coming) … little… (but for some reason, Paul evidently hadn’t been reading Naked Security… or any security blog, I guess) … problem.
Namely, the inheritance was tied up.
In the shares of a Nigerian (OK, stop laughing!) company.
Well. That did it. Paul was already smitten.
He’d just have to get her the £2,000 ($3,100) she needed to fly to the UK to be with him.
Now, you and I both know that Paul was on the brink of being fleeced like the unshorn sheep recently found wandering around burdened with 40.5 kg of Merino.
But this story, unlike far too many other internet scam stories, has one crucial element: a jilted girlfriend with the brains to see that her man was being conned big time.
As the Mirror tells it, Rebecca had noticed that Paul had been growing a bit distant.
She decided to read the messages that her boyfriend had shared with “Kristen.”
She was able to do so because she’d set up his Facebook account and knew his password: typically a terrible idea, given that a jilted lover in a case like this could unleash the hell-hath-no-fury-like-this mojo, by posing as you, posting embarrassing things, pestering your friends, or even by setting you up to look like a criminal – say, somebody who sends friend requests to little girls.
But this isn’t one of those cases. This is a rare case where a partner knowing her boyfriend’s password turned out to be a blessing.
When Rebecca logged in to Paul’s Facebook page, it was uh-oh time.
It seems that, despite never having met “Kristen”, Paul had declared his love and was planning to spend his future with her.
It’s true, he said when confronted. He was leaving her.
So she packed her bags and left the home they shared.
Jilted by a rat boyfriend for an online fantasy? Well, maybe. But that wasn’t the end of the story. In fact, Rebecca smelled a rat, and she suspected it had its fangs in Paul.
Even though Paul had treated me so badly, I was still in love with him. I couldn’t see myself growing old with anyone else. I had a gut feeling all wasn’t as it seemed with Kristen.
So she searched for the term “romance scam” online.
Sure enough, on the first page of results, there she was: “Kristen,” looking back out of the screen at Rebecca with all that soulful, millionaire-heiress loneliness.
Surprise, surprise: it turns out that the photo of “Kristen” was actually that of a (completely innocent!) Russian model.
Sad to say, the search results also showed that “Kristen” was two-timing Rebecca’s man.
No, wait, make that three-timing. … hang on… OK, make that … ummm…. looks like 20 pages of posts from “Kristen’s” “boyfriends”, so that would more accurately be “close to the entire internet-timing” Paul.
In fact, the picture of the blonde bombshell was linked to a forum dedicated to “Kristen” and all the men she (or he, or they, who knows?) had tried to separate from their money – though, of course, he/she/they used different names to chat up different men.
I say she - she could have been a man for all I knew, or a gang of men.
But one thing Rebecca did know – she had to fill in her philandering fiancé:
I knew it was only a matter of time before someone tried to get some cash out of Paul. I had to warn him.
He didn’t believe her at first, but the evidence piled up, Rebecca said:
At first, he was in denial and insisted what he had with Kristen was real. But eventually, he admitted she had asked him for £2,000 so she could fly to the UK to be with him – despite the fact her dad was a millionaire.
He'd replied saying he loved her and couldn’t wait to see her.
Fortunately, Rebecca got through to him before he sent the money.
When the truth finally sank in, Paul was mortified, Rebecca says:
He'd told his friends and parents about Kristen and had to go back and admit she didn’t exist. It was embarrassing but I helped him write to Kristen, saying the scam had been rumbled.
Oh no you don’t, the scammer, or scammers, replied: we’re breaking up with you.
Kristen, or whoever she was, replied straight away, saying she had a new boyfriend and didn’t want to be with Paul.
Paul and Rebecca split up in January 2013. Within a few months of his pixel fantasy going up in a puff of silicon smoke, Paul discovered that his feelings for his real-life girlfriend had returned.
So the wedding plans are back on. Paul has had the crazy good luck to have been given a second chance, and he says he’s going to hang on to Rebecca for dear life this time.
Well, for the love of Mike, I would certainly hope so. She’s a keeper!
Even if you might be dubious about Rebecca Lewis’s heart smarts, what with this taking back of a guy who dumped her for a Facebook fiction, you have to give her credit for having cybersleuthing skills.
In fact, she has a few tools in her kit that we often urge everybody to adopt when it comes to fending off online fraud. Namely:
1. Skepticism. Lewis knows full well that people you don’t know are strangers, and they’re not always who they say they are. There are so many cases where imposters have targeted kids, such as the paedophile who posed as Justin Bieber, or the 22-year-old from New Jersey who posed as a teenager to stalk girls online.
Adults have their own flavors of lying sleazebag fraudsters: cybercrooks who prey on vulnerable love-seekers on dating sites; who convince them they’re sending money to needy soldiers; who send bogus emails claiming you’ll get a payment just as soon as you first pay a “shipping agent” (known as “advance fee fraud“); or by voluptuous women who, strangely enough, are forced to find love online – presumably because Russia is fresh out of men who like buxom blondes.
And wait just one second – did Paul Rusher’s heiress actually claim that her money was tied up in the shares of a Nigerian company?That’s not just a red flag. That’s a red locomotive dropped off a cliff and accelerated by downdrafts.
Heck, there’s even a novel about all of this. (It’s worth reading, too.)
Look up from the keyboard every so often, lest one of these frauds land on your head!
2. The ability to perform an internet search. You don’t have to be a cyber forensics genius to do a simple search, like Rebecca did, to educate yourself on online scams, or online dating scams, or romance scams.
Note that she could have taken it one step further and done a reverse image lookup search to see where else her fiancé’s brand-new gal pal had been hanging out online.
Don’t be like Paul, willing to believe that a pretty, rich girl you’ve never met in real life would want to hook up with you.
Be like Rebecca – willing to do a bit of legwork to find out whether something’s a bit too good to be true.
Image of love triangle courtesy of Shutterstock.com
16 comments on “Why it’s not a good idea to leave your fiancée for someone you met online”
When will the average luser (I apologize for that) learn that the Internet has a lot of really bad people on it. I love the line, “Paul evidently hadn’t been reading Naked Security… or any security blog, I guess) … problem.” People just don’ get it. As I’ve written in other posts, I give classes in Internet security that are poorly attended. I made my coworkers chuckle the other day when I said, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.”
Once had the pleasure of helping uncover a romance scam. I have a Immigration Consulting business and had someone come to see me about this girlfriend of his from Ghana. They had met online and after serious chatting for a several months, she informed him that she had just got her Canadian visa approved ( sent him a copy) and all she needed was $2000 to satisfy exit control there that she could afford to travel to North America.
Fortunately this triggered alarm bells, but not enough for him to know for sure hence wanting my advice. Totally fake visa, totally bogus exit policy. He ended it and we gave the details to the visa section of the embassy.
Stay alert people!!
i had some Canadian guy do it to me, said hes wife died 5 years ago, he was an engineer and put in a tender to go to turkey to fix up a casino that was destroyed in fire, he wants me to send him $38,000 to pick up the material from the wharf…. he even showed me his tender contract saying it was granted… I politely told him to go jump off the wharf, and that I don’t appreciate being scammed… least I can hold my head up.
obviously thinking with his dick, his girlfriend thinking with her heart.
That happened to a friend of mine. Every one of his friends was telling him it was a scam, but he just couldn’t believe it until he was $500 poorer, waiting at the airport for the beautiful girl who never showed up.
California is now a “Third World” country, but then, most on this side of the border knew that California has no millionaires, they are all in DC… grin
Time there was a GCSE in scepticism. Actually kids are quite savvy. I know of a group of young girls who smelled a rat, discussed with a teacher, and ended up saving their friend literally with minutes to spare as the police stopped the train before it reached the station where she was meeting the suspected paedophile.
But like this story, it is easy to get suckered in. It is done bit by bit – there was a recent Radio 4 documentary where a very sceptical woman got conned into bank transfers, and all the calls had actually been recorded. The skill with which the conmen had played the game was impressive and it would have to be someone truly exceptional to have not been taken in.
It is often easy with hindsight and not being involved to think you would not have fallen for it. One of the way scammers get away with it is because the use some aspect of the engagement in order to keep the victim from discussing it – in this case, the very nature meant he would keep it from his girlfriend; in the bank case, they convinced the victim that there was a fraud going on at their bank branch and not to discuss it so that they could help catch the fraudsters.
Perhaps we need a trusted anonymous phone line a bit like the Samaritans where people can call and discuss in confidence online “engagements” before they get too far. If you suspect someone is scamming you, there isn’t really anyone to turn to – the last people you will ask are your friends because if you are being scammed, you will feel humiliated.
Problem is that reaching out to an anonymous phone line requires you to suspend your fantasy (and go against the scammers’ warnings) in the first place.
Click through on the word “novel” in the article to read about an artifice that “419” (financial fraud) scammers use…when they think you’ve decided to confide in someone else, or if you actually say you have gone to the authorities, they launch a parallel scam, claiming to be law enforcement, going along the lines that “someone has reported a scam potentially involving you – if you think you may be a victim, please provide us with the following details…”
Now you’re on the hook for giving away money with the left hand, and perhaps recovering it with the right 🙁
Kudos to you people who took the time to educate friends and even managed to save some from making expensive mistakes. I was thinking that I need to amend that list above: another commendable aspect of Rebecca’s behavior is that she took the time and effort to convince her fiancé that he was being set up.
We’re preaching to the choir when it comes to publishing these warning tales—what really matters is that people who *do* read these stories keep an eye on their friends and loved ones who *don’t*, and that we all make every effort to steer them in the right direction.
To go to that trouble, even after you’ve been jilted? Give that woman a gold medal.
Would seem that in the end the only one who was scammed is Rebecca…
This also happened to a friend of mine. He was duped of $3000 and no chick arrived at the airport when she was supposed to.
Wow, he in no way deserves her. That’s crazy.
all this unbelievable stupidity
One reason to spend less time on social media and talk to your neighbors and friends. At least you can be sure that they are real, ummm at least until the next generation of robots take over.
How convincing can someone be? Well we’ve all been duped to some degree. So more outlandish than others. I would say that its amazing that he already found a girl who was ready to marry him (which is a huge process anyway) and just thought he would walk away.
“That’s not just a red flag. That’s a red locomotive dropped off a cliff and accelerated by downdrafts.”
Pahahah, actually LOLing; I *love* that hyperbole!