Women share on how they got conned in the name of love
They go by many names. Romance scams, love frauds, honey trappers, Yahoo boys, or love cons.
This is how the plot unfolds. You are looking for love or attention from the opposite sex. Then one day you meet your prince charming. It could be either online or offline, and in a short time, he seems to cross all your boxes. He takes your breath away, says all the right things, and showers you with affection. He sweeps you away in a make-believe world, a world you only imagined. You count yourself lucky and pour libation to your ancestors.
Once he gains your trust, he starts to ask for things, a small loan here, an urgent bill that needs attention, or an emergency that only you can address. With time he robs you blind. Eventually, he leaves you nursing a broken heart and an empty bank account.
“How can the devil be pulling you toward someone who looks so much like an angel when he smiles at you?” you wonder at the end just like Taylor swift.
Welcome to the world of relationships con artists.
It happens all too often. And with the upsurge of online dating, romance scammers have gained a bigger marketplace.
While there is no official data in Kenya, one in ten adults will fall victim to a love scam or fraud every year, according to the US Federal Trade Commission. In 2016, the FBI recorded 15, 000 individual romance scam complaints with the losses amounting to over $220 million. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of romance scam victims ever report the crime and hence, the actual numbers are likely to be higher.
In an attempt to gather insights into women who get conned in the name of love, we pooled four women to share their experiences. Below are their stories.
- ‘How could a Ph.D. holder be tricked like a fool?’ I scolded myself.
Josephine Sarah, 38, Research Consultant
When in love, people tend to ignore the negative things they witness hoping that they will just fade away, while this is a clear indication that something is wrong as Josephine Sarah found out. The Ph.D. holder met Marcus a gospel minister, who robbed her of her heart and savings.
“He was everything I hoped for in a man. He was caring and loving and best of all he wanted to marry me. I was smitten,” she says of the man who turned out to be a relationship trickster.
“I was showered with affection, promises, and gifts, as the strategy to gain my ultimate adoration. At some point, I felt the deal was too good and my instincts hinted that something was not right. To my fellow ladies, always trust your sixth sense,” Josephine shares.
“He claimed he was busy working for us. At first, it appeared genuine and it made me think that I was getting married to a responsible man,” Josephine says. They had planned to marry in August of this year, but Marcus would postpone the wedding activities at a moment’s notice.
Even though Marcus had introduced her to his relatives and friends, Josephine says she realised that he wasn’t consistent in his words and actions. Now, she looks at the years spent with him and gets mad at the time she wasted nurturing a relationship that was “dead on arrival”.
“To begin with, he suggested we set up a business for our upcoming wedding and we were to contribute equally Sh300, 000. In February, I sent him Sh150, 000 as my contribution and he promised to do the documentation in the presence of a lawyer but this didn’t happen. Whenever I asked for the documentation he would tell me, “usione umefika na masomo” (Don’t think you have made it because of your academic qualifications,” she says.
The affair came to a screeching halt when she discovered that the man had conned her.
“I gave him six months to repay the money but he gave empty promises. I reported him to the police and he was arrested last month. I wanted him to never take another woman for granted,” she narrates.
According to Psychologist Dr. Susan Gitau, apart from the obvious financial outcome after being scammed, victims of romance scams, suffer emotionally and socially often resulting in serious mental and health problems. They may also lose their sense of trust, self-worth, trust, and security in the world.
“Giving him the money made me bitter that I started to blame myself for having fallen in his trap and I would wonder, “How could a Ph.D. holder be tricked like a fool?” I scolded myself. However, with the support of my loved ones I have realised that anybody can fall for an opportunist. At the moment I am scared of dating someone who will even ask for Sh100. I have learnt never to be desperate for love,” Josephine concludes.
- ‘I fell for him so deeply that I could do anything to make him happy’
Miriam Akinyi, 31, businesswoman
Miriam’s story seems to fit right into the phrase “love is blind” because of the events that followed thereafter.
“I met Mudali in 2013 in a restaurant I was working for. He was an employee with a great sense of humour, very good-looking, and with an enticing coastal Swahili language. He was a chef like me and I often thought, ‘who wouldn’t want to wake up to a sumptuous breakfast in bed once in a while?’ I fell in love with him so deeply that I could sacrifice anything for him. He noticed my immense love for him and started setting his cards carefully. Day After a day, he brought in stories that needed financial support. For instance, he told me he needed to rent a house because he had a conflict with his sister who he lived with. Little did I know, that the ‘sister’ in this case was the ‘wife’,” Miriams says.
Miriam empathised with her lover’s situation when he told her that with his little pay, he couldn’t meet all the responsibilities.
“I rented him a house since by then, I was still staying with my parents. I would send his mother Sh3, 000 weekly, for her high blood pressure medication and his siblings always contacted me anytime they needed anything,” Miriam reveals.
Miriam sacrificed every cent for her lover and the entire family and little did she know that the man had a wife, a 15-year-old who had dropped out of school after he made her pregnant.
“The mom and his siblings were aware that the son had settled down but they took advantage of my innocence and I became their cash cow. As if that was not enough, since I was always at my parents’ house at night, the guy shamelessly brought in the wife and his child to the house I had rented for him. Apart from offsetting the rent, I ensured there was enough shopping,” Miriam says.
For a year, this went on until his lies were exposed.
“I had friends who called him out but I was in denial. One day, I confronted him, and shockingly, he told me that he had settled into a relationship with another very rich lady who didn’t mind that he had a wife and child. My heart was broken, shattered and it took me three years to heal but I swore to myself that I would never date a man who isn’t financially stable. My mind is alert especially to men who ask for money. I don’t hesitate to call off such relationships. I think that’s why I am still single. The past took away the patience and tolerant spirit that I used to have,” Miriam surmises.
- ‘He bonded with my daughter so well that I was thankful that she had found a father figure’
Tracy Nyongese, 45, a banker
Tracy first met James, her knight in shining armor in 2015, while a single mother of one.
“Hello beautiful woman, can I have a moment with you?” she recalls the words that captured her heart.
“I had never been told that by any man I dated previously. That’s when I first noticed him and indeed, he was very charming. As I was leaving the office, he followed me to the parking lot and we exchanged numbers. After a few calls, we decided to meet for drinks,” recalls Tracy
After a few of such meetings, the pair began to bond and their friendship moved beyond the platonic stage. And even though Tracy knew James was married with two kids, she was so much drawn to him that they began dating.
“I had just secured a job in the banking industry. I was determined to save for my child and retirement. I was very open to him about my life including my earnings. By then, the man was not doing well financially. When we met, he was doing business, supplying various products to government institutions and the season was so dry. He was broke and was seriously considering going back into teaching. I tried looking for a job for him but to no avail,” Tracy says.
Two years on, Tracy would support the man to pay his bills, and thereafter, the man requested her to take a loan to put up a business that would help meet his bills.
“My heart was so drawn to this man. There was no way I would give up the sex we had. It was the best I ever had. This man bonded with my daughter so well that I was thankful that she had found a father figure. He would spend days in my house and his wife would say that for as long as I was with him, she was fine. Little did I know, this was a well-calculated trick by the couple,” Tracy shares.
The trio became best of friends, and soon after they convinced Tracy to fund a business idea.
“The business was about importing and exporting beauty products. They requested I support them with a loan of Sh5million which they were to pay me Sh100, 000 monthly,” Tracy says.
But two months after Tracy took a loan and transferred the money to James, the couple disappeared, relocated, and changed their numbers. “It’s been four months now since I took out the loan, I am still hurting and so confused. I am now paying the loan that I never spent. I regret ever meeting him and though I have reported the issue to the police, my heart is broken. To my fellow women, be cautious when giving your heart. Don’t love blindly. I am paying for my ignorance and foolishness,” Tracy shares.
- ‘This man would quote bible verses and preach’
Maggy Kwamboka, 34, Human Resource Manager
In 2015, Maggy met Enoch, a gospel artist, author, and preacher. His love for God captured her heart and she thought she had finally met the man she was praying for.
“Dating in your late 30s sucks,” she tells me.
“You feel like you have no choice left and hence settle for any man that comes your way. At first, I thought I had found a perfect match as this man would quote bible verses and preach. Having been brought up in a strict religious family, I knew God had answered my prayers by bringing Enoch my way,” says Maggy.
Relationship experts argue that a narcissist is charming at first because they are very smart in studying you and they are aware of what you like and thus charm you. Maggy’s story seems to fit right into this script as she was love bombed with gifts, appreciation, and encouragement to pursue her dreams. Little did she know, she was getting into the worst trap.
“During our first dates, the guy was asking me how much I earn and since I had already built so much trust in him, I disclosed even on the investments I was intending to do. My instincts, though, were telling me that some things were not adding up as he would often not pick calls at night and would claim the house doesn’t have network,” says Maggy.
Enoch was so secretive and for one year, he would visit her house but had reasons for her not to visit him.
“He would tell me that his sisters were coming and we wouldn’t have quality time together. I became so insecure. I would pay for most of the bills in restaurants and he was comfortable passing the bills to me,” Maggy divulges.
“When we first met, the man told me that he was operating a shop in town but never allowed me to visit. Little did I know, this shop was operated by his wife who he claimed was his ex. Together, they were also doing a farming business which at some point I was told to boost it with Sh50, 000 only to be told later that the business had collapsed,” Maggy shares.
With time, Maggy lost her self-esteem, as the man constantly compared her with other women.
“After a while, the man brought some cash to my parents for the introductions ceremony, to prove to me how important I was to him,” she says.
It was a cover-up.
“I started investigating the man and eventually his neighbours confided that he was married to the woman he claimed was his ex for five years,” Maggy reveals.
Still, the man had instilled in her so much fear, that Maggy feared confronting him. So she started planning for an exit strategy. During the period, the man had requested that she takes a loan.
“I had saved Sh600, 000 in a Sacco and he would request that I take out the money to invest together. He insisted that the loan would also help us build houses as a future investment. I couldn’t accept his tricks and as a result, he became hostile. He would shout at me, and he would tell me how lucky I am to have him in his life as many rich women were after him,” Maggy narrates.
“One day, I decided to check his phone and I was so shocked to see the conversations between him and his wife. In one of the chats, his wife had texted “Jifanye mjinga mpaka pesa ipatikane.”
This marked Maggy’s point of no return. She looks back at the years spent with Enoch and gets mad at the time she wasted with a con artist.
“When I decided to quit the relationship, the man begged me to stay saying that he had done wrong and was ready to make it right. The other woman would contact me and apologise. But, it was too late,” Maggy shares.
Since then the man has gone on a revenge mission and has been spoiling her name online. “I thank God I have healed. To my fellow ladies, never settle for less. I learnt my lesson well,” she concludes.