These online scammers thought that their smooth talk and sweet nothings would be enough to convince a lonely, depressed widow to send them all her money.
And for a while, she seemed to play along with them. They thought they had her in the bag. Little did they know she was about to flip the script and make them regret ever daring to mess with her.
Mary Larkin is a woman from West Yorkshire, England, who recently taught everyone a lesson on the dangers creeping behind some corners of the Internet and how to tackle them.
We all should pay attention to her example and listen to the advice she has to offer. It all happened right after a drastic event that changed the course of Mary’s life forever.
After the decease of Harrison, Mary’s husband, she was left alone in the world. Her parents had passed away long ago, and she and Harrison never had any children.
She still had her friends, sure. But that wasn’t enough to fill the void that Harrison had left behind him. He had been his soulmate, his best friend, and his confidante. Mary entered a deep depression that lasted for close to a year. But eventually, she realized something.
She couldn’t spend the rest of her years mourning. Harrison’s decease was a tragedy, and she would remember him for the rest of her life. But she was still just 57 years old; she couldn’t spend the rest of her life looking at all pictures and dwelling on the memories.
She still had time to build new, happy memories and make the rest of her life not a place of grief and nostalgia, but of joy and gratefulness to be alive. So Mary took a decision.
She decided to open an account on a dating app. She felt it wasn’t too late to know a man she could connect with and with whom she could grow old. She was eager to see what life could hold for her as she filled in her details on the app.
She felt a little nervous as she went through the male singles that were logged in on the dating app. There were so many people! It was outlandish to her that she could start conversations with complete strangers just in the blink of an eye. However, something was wrong.
She didn’t really find anyone of her liking in the app. Most singles her age had a weird vibe around them. They didn’t look like the type of person she would agree to have drinks, or even a coffee, with.
“Well, after all, most good men and women are taken by this age,” Mary sighed to herself with resignation. But still, she kept swiping, hoping that someone who seemed normal enough would show up sooner or later. And that’s when she saw it.
Suddenly, one man’s profile came up that instantly caught Mary’s attention. Physically, he was just her type: tall, dark, and handsome. According to the information on his profile, he worked as a consultant in one of the city’s big firms.
She instantly swiped right, intrigued by that man and how he would carry himself in conversation. But suddenly, she noticed something.
That man in the pictures seemed strangely familiar to Mary. But who could it be? She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Maybe he had seen him somewhere? Perhaps he was a friend of a friend, or she just had seen him on public transport or at a bar?
After racking her brain for a few minutes, she finally realized. And when she did, she couldn’t stop laughing.
Of course she recognized those pics! That was some famous Italian actor he had seen in a few movies! So logically, that had to be a scammer’s profile.
But suddenly, she heard her phone bussing. She had received a message from the app. She checked it and smirked amusedly at the screen: the scammer was messaging her.
It all started with an emoji of a hand waving at her. After that, the scammer tried to make a little small talk. Mary went along with it, wondering what would come out of it. And soon enough, there came the sob story.
“His story was that he was an American citizen caught up in Iran with his daughter and his daughter had an accident. He needed money for her emergency treatment. He promised me that he would pay me back.” Most people would have blocked the profile instantly, but Mary decided to play along. She had some plans for the fraudster.
“My first question was, ‘where is your travel and health insurance policy?’ Anyway, I played him by asking him for the details to send the money, which he said was via Western Union, so I told him I would.”
“Next, I googled a Western Union branch to find out a reference number and gave him the details, which I had found on the internet.” The fraudster thought he had it in the bag. However, he was in for a surprise.
“Well, you can imagine his horror when he found out that there was no money for him when he went to the Western Union Office,” Mary recounted to the media when asked about her story.
“Every time he asked me for money, I kept giving him fake information, so when he went to the Western Union Office, they would tell him that no money had come through for him.” By this point, you might think that the fraudster would have realized that he was being played himself and would go look for a more gullible victim. But still, this story was far from over.
“After three months of this, he claimed he was coming to see me. It was hilarious to read. He said he wanted to marry me, he was in love with me and wanted to spend the rest of his days with me. He said he was going to make it all up to me when he came to the UK.”
“Even when they received no money, they would go silent, and no messages would come through for hours.” But still, the scammers kept trying and trying.
“They had another trick. You would forget about them and move on with your life. But then a few weeks later, you would get a text message or email, asking how you are, and they would try and talk to you and re-establish a conversation with you and try the scam all over again.”
“Sometimes they would take it to another level, saying that the country’s military or intelligence services were holding them for non-payment of medical fees, or that they were trying to get out of the country via a non-legal route.” But eventually, something else happened.
“When I finally blew my scammer out of the water, it transpired he was caught up in the web by a group and was trying to put himself through law college in Nigeria. But then again, how true that was, I don’t know. I still take his story with a pinch of salt.”
Since then, Mary has been volunteering for a group that helps victims of dating app scammers and offers advice to people who might be vulnerable to this type of fraudsters.