Dream computer date turns into a nightmare

Ledbury Reporter: SCAM: Marilyn Davies is warning people about the danger of online scammers. SCAM: Marilyn Davies is warning people about the danger of online scammers.

A DEVASTATED lonely heart is warning others to be on their guard after her dream online date turned into a real-life nightmare.

Widowed pensioner Marilyn Davies has found out that the dashing US Army officer who contacted her on a dating website was actually a cyber criminal trying to swindle her out of money.

Mrs Davies plucked up the courage to try online dating after her husband of 39 years died just over a year ago.

After registering on the websites Zoosk and Are You Interested, a man calling himself Edwin Massin-gale, who claimed to be a US master sergeant serving in Afghanistan, tried to build an online relationship with her.

But US Army CID has received hundreds of reports from people across the world targeted by cyber criminals assuming the identity of American soldiers who promise true love, but end up breaking people’s hearts and their bank accounts.

The scammer bombarded the 60-year-old with more than 200 e-mails and text messages, often until 4am, including supposed photographs of him in uniform and of his 10-year-old son.

But what started out as messages of admiration soon turned into requests to visit Mrs Davies in England, along with his son. The couple never spoke on the phone and the scammer told her to keep their relationship secret.

It was when he asked Mrs Davies to e-mail the Afghanistan government at an e-mail address he supplied that she spoke to relatives and realised that it was all just a ploy to trick her out of her money.

Holding back the tears, Mrs Davies said: “Now I just feel so stupid and so vulnerable.

“He said he wanted to live with me and marry me and be in my arms.

“I just laughed about it at first, but it became so serious. He was saying that he was really scared in the army. I felt sorry for him,” she said.

Luckily, Mrs Davies, of Hereford, became wise to the scammer’s lies before she sent him any money, but is still terrified that he knows personal information about her.

“I was my husband’s carer before he died. After, I felt I needed someone to speak to just as a friend and go out with and that’s what I was looking for. I just wanted to fill a gap.

“I didn’t feel like I could go out on my own. I’ve never even walked into a pub before on my own. I was dedicated to my husband.”

Having decided to give up internet dating, Mrs Davies is now warning other singles to be wary and not to fall prey to similar scams.

“I’ve had enough, I’d rather stay single. I don’t trust anyone now,” she said.

Tim Thorne, of Trading Standards, said it was a well reported scam, but little could be done to regulate it.

“The websites used to bring people together are not directly to blame – it’s the people who use them and provide false information to the vulnerable.”

He urged people not to respond to requests for money whatever reasons are given. Mrs Davies received an e-mail asking for $1,200 toward administration costs for his leave to be transferred by Western Union to a woman at an address in Chingola, Zambia. Bizarrely, the letter referred to a Gary and not an Edwin Massingale and told her that she had three working days to make the payment.

Comments (10)

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6:33pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Hack says...

Don't despair Marilyn, there are good blokes out there. Just be cautious and engage with your family while you are seeking a new companion. Bon chance!
Don't despair Marilyn, there are good blokes out there. Just be cautious and engage with your family while you are seeking a new companion. Bon chance! Hack

6:35pm Wed 19 Dec 12

rubalish says...

Marilyn I know it is so difficult to be on your own and so lonely but I think you are better off .
I to have been widowed at a young age but would not think of looking for love again after being married to a wonderful man for fourty three years !
God Bless You !
Marilyn I know it is so difficult to be on your own and so lonely but I think you are better off . I to have been widowed at a young age but would not think of looking for love again after being married to a wonderful man for fourty three years ! God Bless You ! rubalish

6:35pm Wed 19 Dec 12

spider666 says...

Sad story --hope you have a merry xmas Marilyn.
Sad story --hope you have a merry xmas Marilyn. spider666

8:12pm Wed 19 Dec 12

one94 says...

You live and learn. Not everyone on the internet is out to scam you, but well done for spotting this con in time and raising awareness.
You live and learn. Not everyone on the internet is out to scam you, but well done for spotting this con in time and raising awareness. one94

11:21pm Wed 19 Dec 12

swampy says...

Marilyn, I was scammed and lied to by a local man, so don't feel bad it can happen to anyone, even men have the same things happen. Just try a site with more local men like Plenty of Fish, its free, and take it slowly, meeting them in public places and finding out background to their lives first. Good luck, and best wishes for the new year x
Marilyn, I was scammed and lied to by a local man, so don't feel bad it can happen to anyone, even men have the same things happen. Just try a site with more local men like Plenty of Fish, its free, and take it slowly, meeting them in public places and finding out background to their lives first. Good luck, and best wishes for the new year x swampy

11:07am Thu 20 Dec 12

mizza21 says...

It's a shame there are people out there who's only aim is to con people out of money using thoroughly despicable methods.
It's easy to call someone gullible, but for gullible you could substitute kind and trusting.
If you're not internet savvy it would be easy to believe someone telling you what you want to hear.
I hope she finds someone and regains her ability to trust.
It's a shame there are people out there who's only aim is to con people out of money using thoroughly despicable methods. It's easy to call someone gullible, but for gullible you could substitute kind and trusting. If you're not internet savvy it would be easy to believe someone telling you what you want to hear. I hope she finds someone and regains her ability to trust. mizza21

12:38pm Thu 20 Dec 12

pinkfluff says...

swampy wrote:
Marilyn, I was scammed and lied to by a local man, so don't feel bad it can happen to anyone, even men have the same things happen. Just try a site with more local men like Plenty of Fish, its free, and take it slowly, meeting them in public places and finding out background to their lives first. Good luck, and best wishes for the new year x
I agree, Zoosk and AYI are not the best sites out there.
[quote][p][bold]swampy[/bold] wrote: Marilyn, I was scammed and lied to by a local man, so don't feel bad it can happen to anyone, even men have the same things happen. Just try a site with more local men like Plenty of Fish, its free, and take it slowly, meeting them in public places and finding out background to their lives first. Good luck, and best wishes for the new year x[/p][/quote]I agree, Zoosk and AYI are not the best sites out there. pinkfluff

1:13pm Thu 20 Dec 12

perplexed@peoplesattitude says...

Just a word of warning with Plenty of Fish, used that site and met a man, who turned out to have a very dangerous past and also a criminal record. Whilst I realise there are some genuine people on there please Marilyn go into it with caution and care as there are men (& Women) who are not all they say they are and use this site to target vulnerable people.

I was subjected to months of abuse and beaten regularly till I managed to get all contact severed. Just be careful ok, really check them out and if anything does not register as genuine give a wide berth.

Good luck and hope you meet some nice, but my advice is go on a site you pay for and which is well monitored and does not allopw free open contact without a fair amount of chat or message exchanges.
Just a word of warning with Plenty of Fish, used that site and met a man, who turned out to have a very dangerous past and also a criminal record. Whilst I realise there are some genuine people on there please Marilyn go into it with caution and care as there are men (& Women) who are not all they say they are and use this site to target vulnerable people. I was subjected to months of abuse and beaten regularly till I managed to get all contact severed. Just be careful ok, really check them out and if anything does not register as genuine give a wide berth. Good luck and hope you meet some nice, but my advice is go on a site you pay for and which is well monitored and does not allopw free open contact without a fair amount of chat or message exchanges. perplexed@peoplesattitude

11:40am Fri 21 Dec 12

Jabbadad says...

Yes could have been a more serous ending, and although I like many who are no longer married know what a loss can be like.
But there is so much publicity on these rouges Men & Women that we should know but sometimes our sad emptiness rules our common sense, and to hear the right words at a low ebb in your life can sound like a golden opportunity. So don't beat yourself up there are nice people out there, you probably have spoken to them not knowing that they are in a similar situation to you.
Yes could have been a more serous ending, and although I like many who are no longer married know what a loss can be like. But there is so much publicity on these rouges Men & Women that we should know but sometimes our sad emptiness rules our common sense, and to hear the right words at a low ebb in your life can sound like a golden opportunity. So don't beat yourself up there are nice people out there, you probably have spoken to them not knowing that they are in a similar situation to you. Jabbadad

11:57am Fri 21 Dec 12

pinkfluff says...

perplexed@peoplesatt
itude
wrote:
Just a word of warning with Plenty of Fish, used that site and met a man, who turned out to have a very dangerous past and also a criminal record. Whilst I realise there are some genuine people on there please Marilyn go into it with caution and care as there are men (& Women) who are not all they say they are and use this site to target vulnerable people. I was subjected to months of abuse and beaten regularly till I managed to get all contact severed. Just be careful ok, really check them out and if anything does not register as genuine give a wide berth. Good luck and hope you meet some nice, but my advice is go on a site you pay for and which is well monitored and does not allopw free open contact without a fair amount of chat or message exchanges.
Sorry to hear about your horrible experience.

Just for balance I have met kind and genuine men on PoF.
[quote][p][bold]perplexed@peoplesatt itude[/bold] wrote: Just a word of warning with Plenty of Fish, used that site and met a man, who turned out to have a very dangerous past and also a criminal record. Whilst I realise there are some genuine people on there please Marilyn go into it with caution and care as there are men (& Women) who are not all they say they are and use this site to target vulnerable people. I was subjected to months of abuse and beaten regularly till I managed to get all contact severed. Just be careful ok, really check them out and if anything does not register as genuine give a wide berth. Good luck and hope you meet some nice, but my advice is go on a site you pay for and which is well monitored and does not allopw free open contact without a fair amount of chat or message exchanges.[/p][/quote]Sorry to hear about your horrible experience. Just for balance I have met kind and genuine men on PoF. pinkfluff

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