Have you or someone you know ever been scammed. From simple you won a $25 Walmart gift card to even worse a… love of your life or so you thought it was. Thousands of valunerable people are effected by this everyday.
This topic is so big and intense, I don’t even know where to start. I will do a little flashback so everyone gets the whole picture. In 2003 my father in law passed away, and for the first 3 years after his passing my mother in law (let’s call her Sue to protect her identity) was in mourning. Everyone knows that grieving that long after someones passing is not healthy. Her grieving was to the extent that she would not go anywhere, she would not do anything and rarely participated in family events such as holidays and birthday parties. The family tried all kinds of things to get her out of her slump and depression. Her doctor put on medications to see if that would help. Nothing was working!
In 2005 she received a computer for Christmas and this was her changing point. She lived in some apartments and had made friends with some of the ladies that also lived there. We started to see a change in her, she was acting like her old self again and the family was relieved. Until one day when I went to pick up my daughter, who had stayed overnight with her. Sue began to ask me questions about Visa’s and how to get one. Noticing that she was sitting at her computer with the yahoo messenger opened. I was not sure at the time and just told her you have to apply. Brushed it off and left that day not thinking about again until the next time. She came to me and began to tell me about this man that she had met online. Either it was Plenty of Fish or Yahoo Messenger. Whichever.. she met a man who claims he is from England, divorced and has one daughter. He works for Chevron off the coast and is responsible for his employees and Containers. She was super excited to have met this man and was already completely in love with him, within two weeks she had been completely brain washed by him.
The family was not concerned until she approached me with questions of “how do you apply for a Visa?” and “how do you get someone from England to the states?” This raised a red flag with me and I started asking questions. At first she did not want to confide in me, but I convinced her that if she wants help then I have to know whats going on. She then proceeded to tell me everything. She explained to me that they are in love and he wants to come to Texas to be with her. There is one problem… she continued to explain to me. She said that he needs a Visa, passport and needs her to send money so he can go to the embassy and apply for his needs. He said he can not pay for it himself because all his money goes to his employees. RED FLAG!!! RED FLAG!!!. I told her that I would have to research this process and get back with her. I immediately went to my husband (her son) and told him everything. He called her with his concerns and she ensured him that she would not send money. With relief, we thought this was done and over.
A couple of months went by and we didn’t hear anything. Then the day came when she was a little flustered and when I asked what was going on. She hesitated at first to tell me since I already ratted on her before. With the promise that I would not say anything, she confided in me again. She proceeded to tell me that the man she loves needs her help again. Come to find out she has been sending him money along. My stomach felt empty and my heart felt heavy. She told me that in order for him to get to the states that he had to move to Nigeria. I pleaded with her that this is all a scam. She was not believing me. This man has her convinced that he is rich, and when he comes to live with her he will buy her a new home, and a car. She would have everything she deserves.
I went and ratted on her again but this time she did not hide her love of him from the family. Instead she was very proud of him and every encounter or conversation with her was about her new love. She did start participating in family events but she usually was not in the same room. She would be around the corner on the phone with him. She would spend approximately $200.00 a month on $5.00 international calling cards to call him. He very seldom ever called her. In fact she lost the apartment she was living in and came to stay with us. During this time I noticed that he called her mostly when It was closer to pay day. The sad thing is, she lives on a fixed income. She only gets around $1200.00 a month and is sending him $800.00. Then purchasing calling cards, she was broke. She was losing everything.
There is so much that has happened in the last 7 years. And unfortunately this is still going on. The family has done everything they can think of. I have done some stuff too and made some calls. But to protect my family I will not go into detail. I had spoken to a man in my home town that is familiar with the way things work in Nigeria. He warned me that unfortunately I needed to back off and stay out of it. He explained to me that these people of all ages work in groups in Nigeria. It is their job, they sit around with binders for each person with all their personal information, favorite things, nicknames and so on. And if you try to step in between them and their money, they have people here in the states that will injure or kill your family. That scared me. Don’t get me wrong I want to help, but I am not going to risk my family’s lives for her.
I wanted to share my story about this because it really does happen everyday. There is still so much to tell, I could write a book on this. This man to this day still promises that he is coming to Texas to be with her. He has told her so many lies such as: he was ambushed and they stole the money she sent him for his plane ticket. His friend was attacked by pirates. He even planned out a fake plane route and got his hands on a cell phone with the California area code. Told her that he is at the air port in California and they have him detained. I am the one who called the airport and they told me they had no one in holding. I looked his name up to see if he was on the flight and his name no where to be found. After he supposedly got departed back to Nigeria, my husband asked Sue to ask him “what was the weather like in California?” He told Sue with confidence who was on the phone with him at the time “it was very cold and raining”. Nope! sorry it was sunny and 82. We even pulled the information up on the internet to prove to her. You would think that would be enough evidence for my mother in law to understand he is not real. However, whatever lie he came up with this time she believed him.
She is so in love with this man that no matter what he comes up with, she believes him. She has very plainly stated that he is more important to her than her own family. She believes that we are out to get her and that we are just trying to control her. Her favorite saying is “I don’t tell you what to do with your money, so don’t tell me what to do with mine”. I told her that I had spoken with the state and they told me that the money she gets is not her money, but is money provided by the state for her well-being and if she is not taking care of herself then they would award to someone or an attorney to make sure she pays her bills and takes care of herself. She argues about that too. Even thou the state told me this and with a report being filed, nothing has been done. It has been three years since the report.
The entire family wants to fly to Nigeria to confront this scumbag but the reality is..we can’t. I have watched similar stories on Dr. Phil and others. We have made her watch the same shows. But to her he is nothing like those men. She has sent her own money, she has sent my sister in laws tax returns and child support checks to him. She has opened numerous bank accounts for him in her name and in my sister in laws name. There has been a case of money laundering and she convinced the bank she had nothing to do with it. She has lost everything and has lived in my home many times. She doesn’t buy a card or a gift for the grand kids when it’s their birthday or Christmas. Shes maladaptive and feeds off drama and creates lots of drama so the family will have their minds on something besides her. She has had a stroke and a heart attack. While she was in the hospital with the stroke, I talked to the scumbag myself. (by the way he does not have an English accent, he is very hard to understand) It was close to her payday. He was frantic, trying to figure out how the money was going to get to him. He was begging me to get her card and take care of it. When I refused to do it, he began calling my cell phone at all hours of the night yelling at me because I was not at her bed side. My husband had then taken the phone and told him not to call my number again and if he is so concerned about his mother then why was he not at her bed side. The calls stopped and Sue found someone else to take her card and send him the money. She has lost relationships with certain family members and the scumbag tells her that it will be okay, he will be with her soon and will prove his love to the family. He calls her wifey and refers to the grandchildren as his grandchildren too. And remember when I mentioned before that they have all the victims information. He has my cell phone number, my address. He knows my whole name and my children’s names, and birthdays. He knows everything thanks to her. She has given him all her passwords for face-book so he can see the pictures of “his grandchildren”. He has all her bank information and passwords. Email logins and passwords,he even has her social security number. Very scary, there is no telling how much information he has. Not just on her but the entire family. She is still to this day convinced that he has to have all this information so that when he comes to Texas they will be prepared. The latest story from her is that he is coming to Texas. He has been in Georgia for the last three months for his daughters wedding and of course she was still sending money at his request to his driver in Nigeria to pay for his containers. (What EVER) At this time she was staying with us again in August and was filling me in on everything. She said she wasn’t going to tell anyone but he’s in Georgia at his daughters house. Him and his daughter had a huge fight after the wedding because he wanted to come to Texas to be with me. His daughter is not talking to him so she moved out of the house and is living in her new husbands house. She’s been trying to find someone to drive her to Georgia to pick him up but, everyone has backed out. She starts to cry and tells me because no one will take her that she needs to send money to him because he found someone to drive him to Texas. I asked for his address giving her slight hope that I might take her to him. I Googled the address he provided and it was a medical clinic. He said the house that he was living in was a huge Victorian home. There were no such houses anywhere close to the address he provided. When she questioned him about the location, he told her that he didn’t want us to pick him up at his daughters house and she of course believed him. He found every excuse why he couldn’t take a bus, fly or rent a car. He said that if he gets stopped on the road he would be deported back. The money she was wanting to send is the money that she was suppose to put down on a place to live. She tried everything to stay in my home. She wanted to stay with us worry free so she could send him the money. The day she is to put money down on the home she pleaded that she needed to send him $800.00 dollars and by noon he will deposit $1,000.00 into her account. I would not let her do this. On the way to the bank she is beside me in the car on the phone with him. She basically told him that my sister in law and I were holding her hostage. I heard him tell her “Sue it’s your money, take control of it!”. I went on to the bank and we put the money down on the home. When we got back to my house she was still on the phone with him. Now they were arguing and she looked at me and said “I hope your happy, were over!” and as much as that made me happy. I said to her “fine tell him to take a picture of himself in front of the medical office and I will jump in my car right now and go get him”. Well….supposedly that just pissed him off. And later that day they were a couple again.
I have not spoken to her since and sources have told me that they have moved again because she is still sending money and lost the previous house.
I wanted to share this story because it really does happen to people everyday. Not only are they effected by the scam artist but their families are effected as well. I am not sure what will become of her or this situation, I will share my new details. If I learn any ways to protect other people and herself from this type of scam, I will definitely inform everyone. I pray for her, but at the same time to protect my family I have removed her from our lives. I have made some calls and contacted some services. Hopefully something will help to put and end to this sadness. It’s sad when we have to show tough love and hope that it will open their eyes. There’s a saying that I always tell myself “you can’t help the ones that can’t help themselves first”. And I truly believe that. Her entire family has done everything possible to help and if you do or say anything negative about him then she is done with you and wants nothing else to do with you. I hope the best for her and the ones she’s currently effecting. And again, there is so so much more to this story.
What is your opinion about this? Is anyone else or know someone who is going through the same thing?
For Better or Worse:
Better: Samantha Echols is my hero today. She recently found out that a neighbor of hers has cancer and no health insurance. She needs chemotherapy and can not afford it. Samantha went above and beyond when she decided to plan this big event to help raise money to at least get the treatments started. The fundraiser was a big success and we are very proud of her.
Worse: The people who snarl their noses at the person in front of them paying with change. Get over it! Stop judging people! Remember everyone is only one paycheck or bad day away from being on the streets. Contribute a little if you have so much, if not then stand back there patiently and stop your pouting. Seriously!!
Do you have any for better or worse stories to share?