She went through a really rough divorce in 2019 with an abusive husband, and not too long after that she was dating online and met this man about her age who was allegedly deployed to Afghanistan with the US military (which is odd to begin with since they’re in their 50s). She started chatting with him a lot and talking about him all the time. He has the same name as my husband, so she used to tell me a lot about it because I tend to be a good listener, and she thought it was a funny coincidence.

He would occasionally send her flowers or pizza to our workplace (still does sometimes), and right off the bat it was clear that he was lovebombing, so my only advice was to take it slow. (I tend not to give strong advice, opting for listening instead, but I felt a bit concerned.) She claims she has never sent him money, but even though she earns more than I do, she has had constant financial struggles. I know that’s a fairly normal thing for people to have now, but in the context of everything else I think it might be significant.

So obviously once Biden became president, the troops were gradually removed from Afghanistan. I felt like this was the moment of truth, but no. He then claimed that he was in possession of gold bars (yes, really) that he could not easily transport to the US, so he had to sort this out first. Since 2020 and up until recently, he’s allegedly been in a country in Africa (I think she said Ghana).

She video chats with him, but there’s always some reason his camera is not working. I saw her chatting with him at lunch one day. He was pretending the app was glitching out. She claims she’s seen him briefly on camera, but that the quality was very poor. Otherwise, it’s been entirely one-sided. She’s very ignorant about technology, so I feel like she’s easy to fool. (I’ve tried to strategically mention sometimes how I video chat while gaming with my discord buddies from all over the world without issue, but I don’t think my message connects.)

A couple other possible red flags:

He looks like a picture that would come up if you googled “handsome middle-aged man.” She’s got a picture of “him” with his shirt off, and he’s super ripped and … I mean, insanely attractive people exist, but…

I’ve snuck into her office and taken a picture of this guy (she has it printed and hanging by her workspace), and I’ve done a reverse image search on tineye, bing, and yandex, but nothing comes up. The picture seems like an instagram influencer type person (think Andrew Tate, only much better looking).

Another thing: The guy is allegedly from the US, he has a Hispanic name, but I’ve overheard him on a voice call with her, and he has a strong accent that is definitely not Spanish.

He’s promised her that he’s coming so many times that I’ve lost count. Supposedly, he’s in the US now, and he was supposed to travel here recently, but nope … some excuse, there’s always an excuse.

And even though he’s supposedly back home, he still “can’t” video chat with her. Moreover, she doesn’t know his address, like what? He tells you he loves you, and then this?

I know it’s not my problem, but this breaks my heart. If she wants a relationship, there are so many other people out there, nice people, real people. Maybe I’m too nice and I should just blatantly tell her this is a scam. I’ve tried to drop so many hints, but clearly subtlety doesn’t work. I really don’t know what else that I can do to make her see reality.

    1 year ago

    You can’t make her do anything. I don’t think blatantly telling her it is a scam will work.

    You can tell her your feelings and suspicions prefaced with your motivation (you don’t want to see her get hurt and stolen from). You could maybe find some kind of warning signs / red flags checklist for this kind of scam for her to review.

    It sucks to see but we are each responsible for our choices and beliefs. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. I hope that isn’t the case here.