About that Online Lover You Fell in Love with…

…but never met. Or met a time or two and he is so ‘busy’ traveling the world over that he ‘misses you dreadfully’ but it’s just not working out to settle down with you… and whose ring you wear on your finger–either engagement or wedding–because that time you actually saw him, you decided to tie the knot because you’re so crazy about each other… and, yes, the guy who is constantly studying to become a doctor or some other great person, and needs your finances to get it done… Yes, about that guy…

He has no intentions of coming for you. He doesn’t love you any more than the other women he is scamming. And he might even be a she.

And, guys, about that drop-dead-gorgeous woman from some exotic place, who can’t wait to be in your arms as “Mrs. You”… Reread the above, and replace ‘him’ with ‘her’, ‘guy’ with ‘gal’ and any other gender-specific info as well… Because she is quite possibly some guy needing cash. You get the idea.

It happens with both men and women, but for the rest of this post I will focus on women, because it’s where I have the examples.


The first time I heard of it, if I recall accurately, was on a Dr. Phil show.  A widow who looked to be in her 60’s  or thereabouts, still grieving from the loss of her husband maybe a year or so earlier. In her loneliness, she fell for his schmoozing, and started supporting him financially with various needs. By the time her children realized her ‘boyfriend’ was an online fraud, she had lost an exorbitant amount of money, and even with Dr. Phil’s help and after having the man in the photo on the phone–keeping in mind his identity was being used by someone else–come on the show and tell the woman that he is a gay man and in a relationship, the woman refused to believe it was a scam. I wasn’t able to find the video to share here, unfortunately, however if you do a Google search of “Dating Scams” or something similar, you will find videos and stories in abundance.

The second time I heard of it was when a single friend shared about her new boyfriend. He was a rather romantic fellow, having sent a bouquet of yellow roses–symbolizing friendship, not love–because a patient man knows love takes time.  She was smitten. Completely ‘taken’, and in only a matter of weeks. When she shared the picture and name with me, along with his career, something didn’t sit right. The guy looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. This niggled at my mind until I gave in and did what any good friend would do… I did a search of his image, and discovered a very different ‘real’ name; the man behind the picture was a low-profile politician in USA. And then I had the unpleasant duty of breaking my friend’s heart before this impostor broke it worse.

The third time was soon after the second, when visiting with a new friend, and it turned out to be a fascinating ‘twist’ from the usual… My new friend shared of her family, ‘introducing’ me to each one by way of childhood stories and what they were up to now, in adult life. One sister, she said, had been ‘in love’ for many years with a gentleman from overseas. He was somewhat younger than she, but that didn’t bother him, but it also meant he was still in University, and trying to get through studies while maintaining a job and other commitments. Needless to say things were tight, so out of the goodness of her heart, she had supplemented his income quite heavily. My guards went up and immediately I questioned if he was real. She assured me he was ‘real’, as he had come to visit and meet her family, and were now talking marriage. My radar still said something was very wrong, so I asked if we could do a search on his image, and see what happens… Moments later, to her amazement, his picture popped up with approximately 20 different identities, in various countries, and studying at a variety of universities to become many different things. Her sister was being scammed.

sadettin saran 2
The photo used by FB scam artist Stutzman Niccolo Larry 

Since then numerous women have asked for my feedback on various relationship issues, pertaining to online dating, and I’ve seen it too often. For an example of one such profile, and the one who most recently broke another friend’s heart, here is a scammer who goes by Stutzman Niccolo Larry on Facebook posing as Sadettin Saran, a swimmer who is now the owner of Saran Holdings. (If you do decide to check out Stutzman Niccolo’s page, be sure to send him a friend request. Several hundred or thousand requests in a short time should keep him…or her… busy awhile.)

sadettin saran
The ‘real’ man behind the image: Sadettin Saran.

How does the scam work? Some guy–usually with a strikingly handsome profile pic, at least perceived to be that by the scammer–starts sending messages to a woman on Facebook, or through some dating site, flowing with compliments and sweet words. How these people choose their targets (aka victims), I haven’t figured out, but my guess is it’s a mass ‘hit’ on women, to see which ones respond, and which ones seem most likely to fall prey to them. My clue about the ‘mass hit’ is that when I’ve ‘creeped’ these ‘lovers’ on behalf of someone, the men usually have only female friends, with an exception of maybe 2 or 3 males on their list of 60 to 100 friends. Simple math would endorse my reasoning, but it is only a deduction for which I have no proof.

So, be it one ‘hit’, or be it half a hundred, the women who receive the messages are entirely twitterpated by the attention, and stop thinking reasonably. (And if you don’t know the meaning of twitterpated, check  out this little educational clip.) In more formal and professional terminology, Dr. Sam Vaknin writes, “The unpalatable truth is that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse.” Coincidentally he writes from the perspective of self-love, aka narcissism, in his book “Malignant Self-Love; Narcissism Revisited”, which is the very thing that drives these scam artists. Few things are more narcissistic and selfish than using vulnerable people. So sense and reason have fled for them as well.

Looking at this ‘love intoxication’ from the vantage point of the fraud victim, this works strongly in favour of the fraudster, and not so much for the vulnerable individual getting the attention. If ‘love’ imitates substance abuse, and the behavior changes are ‘reminiscent of psychosis’, then these crooks are of all crooks most brilliant. By making a vulnerable individual feel like a million bucks, lose their head, and then present a sob story–because that is the next step–they are able to take advantage of otherwise reasonable and intelligent people.

In the most recent situation where I was asked for advice, and my ‘spidy sense’ told me it was ‘one of those’, I predicted the next move before it happened; she would be asked for money shortly, I said. A day or two later I received a message saying, “You were right… He just asked for money.”

These crooks are as predictable as the day is long, with slight variations on the minor details. They know their game, and they look for your vulnerability. I hate to break it to you, but it’s very much a ‘let me give you a hug so I can pickpocket you’ kind of love, and they have no regard for you. You deserve better.

The solution? Be wary of people who fall in love with you quickly online. Research them. Search Google for similar images by ‘right clicking’ on their pictures and choosing  that option. (Only works on Chrome, that I know of.) If you’re so inclined, report them, which may mean first joining in the game and asking for their phone number so you can ‘hear their voice’ or some such excuse. And if he sounds like a teenage girl, he’s probably not the hunk for you. If he sounds as sexy and masculine as anyone you’ve ever heard, he’s also probably not the one for you. And if it never works to meet, he probably doesn’t look like his picture and has to make excuses.

If he does meet with you, now and then, and eventually marries you or becomes engaged to you before disappearing again, I suggest you take your ring(s) to an appraiser to see if they are worth more than a buck or two, or twenty or a hundred… Then, if he just can’t come live with ‘his beautiful bride’ or spend time with his fiancée, whom he ‘misses immensely’, it may be because he has so many brides or fiancées that he doesn’t have time for all of them in a year. In that case, cash in the ring–and hope it’s worth more than a buck or two–and assume you were never married. Take the money and go out for dinner with a good friend who will love you and not judge you for being duped.

Then wait patiently for the right one to come along, who will treat you with the respect and love you are worth.

Less gushy and more sincere will carry lovers through many years of wedded bliss, while bumbling and stumbling through the nitty-gritty of real life. That messy stuff, with real humans and real problems, is the best kind of love in the world. It’s not perfect and trip-over-yourself-romantic all the time, but it’s a safe place to land without pretenses and performance, and it fights forward together and doesn’t use manipulation to rob you blind. It’s real, and it’s love. That’s the kind you’re looking for. So ditch that dude (or dudette) and prepare your heart for someone worthy of you.

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger