VICTIM OF ORGANISED ROMANCE SCAM SHARES HER STORY
A devastated businesswoman has explained how she was scammed out of $140,000 after falling for a man she met on a dating website. Jordan Alexander, 51, struck up an online relationship with whom she thought was a well-educated, family-oriented railway engineer. The businesswoman, originally from Canada but now lives in New Zealand, said the man she knew as ‘James Norman’ appeared keen to share every aspect of his life with her despite the fact she’d never met or seen him in person.
The mother of two said she fell head over heels in love with the “millionaire” businessman, 50, and was convinced he was “The One”.
That was before she travelled all the way to Hawaii to meet him for the first time after six-months of online romance, only to realise she had unwittingly become involved in an elaborate scam when he never showed up.
James spent months building her trust by giving her access to his bank accounts where she saw “millions of dollars”, before he started asking to borrow money from her, she claims.
Her story draws comparisons with the podcast and now Netflix series ‘Dirty John’, which tells the real-life, sees a successful woman meet a ‘charming’ doctor on a dating website – before discovering his web of lies.
Jordan turned to online dating in 2012 after struggling for years to find time for a relationship due to the demands of her job and family commitments.
“All my friends were saying I work too much and need a man.” As a single mum and business woman, I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands. Online dating seemed like an efficient way to meet new people,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
After just one day of setting up her dating profile, the mother said she was “excited” when a James Norman “matched” with her.
Ms. Alexander said the pair hit it off instantly because they had a lot in common – they were both working in business, both owned a consultancy firm, travelled overseas for work and were single parents.
“I thought… geez so far so good – James and I are already “on the same page” around issues, feelings and what’s important,” she said.
The pair started exchanging messages on a daily basis.
“He was so attentive and remembered everything we spoke about, he’d follow up things and revealed personal feelings,” Ms. Alexander said.
“He was always asking about the girls and work. I felt he was caring, thoughtful, kind, family oriented, keen to have a deep and meaningful relationship “with the right woman”. It was fun, he made me feel special – he could be “the one”.’
As their romance blossomed online, James, who claimed he was living between London and New York started calling her following weeks of emailing back and forth.
“Our first conversation was a bit of a surprise, he caught me off guard. We hadn’t planned a chat. I remember thinking – where is that accent from?’ she said.
“He said he lived in South Africa for work for a long time, and then New York and London. His accent was a bit “different” so was mine as a Canadian, now Kiwi, who was born to European parents. I thought it all made sense.
“It was a lovely voice and he even sounded tall, dark and handsome.”
Ms. Alexander said James was the first to say “I love you” to her.
“I remember it felt like it was a bit soon, but as an impulsive Gemini, I didn’t think it was impossible,” she said.
“We were having a connection and what felt like a soulful chemistry, I thought everyone defines love differently. Who am I to make assumptions about his feelings.”
Four months into their relationship, the couple planned to finally meet in Hawaii for their first romantic getaway together.
“His assistant had emailed me regarding details for the hotel, all paid for. I loved that someone other than me was making the arrangements, I felt wonderful,” she said.
And it wasn’t long until James who claimed he was working at a remote railway area in Sri Lanka at the time started making bizarre excuses.
“First it was the WiFi problems in the “remote” railway areas,” she said.
As James claimed he had trouble logging into his bank account due to bad reception, he asked the mother to help him transfer his own money.
“I had to do some banking for him on his accounts, using his passwords so he didn’t ask me to give him money at first,” she said.
When she logged into his account on what she believed was a legitimate website, she was stunned to see his bank balance.
“I could see he had millions [of dollars in his account],” she said.
But after she attempted to wire the money, the transfer didn’t go through because of the bank’s security feature.
“It was when his bank didn’t let the transfer go through because the request was from an unknown server – I am in New Zealand not London, he only then asked me to send him $15,000 to buy the railway supplies from China,” she said.
But his request to ‘borrow’ money didn’t end there. He would make up a different excuse each time he asked her for money as well as a promise he would pay her back.
Ms. Alexander said she ended up borrowing money from the bank, maxing out her credit cards and even re-mortgaging her home to help him.
“There was one excuse after another,” she said.
By the time their romantic holiday came around, Ms. Alexander had already sent him $140,000.
But after seeing the “millions” of dollars in his bank account with “my own eyes”, she convinced herself she would get her money back.
When she arrived in Honolulu, James told her he was going to be a day or two late.
“He was delayed in Sri Lanka. I was so disappointed,” she said.
“I had played out the “meet James” scene on my mind a million times, planned the outfit I was going to wear and the drink I would order if I got to the bar first.
“But when he texted to say he couldn’t be there, I was gutted. Major anti-climax but I was still excited though that he’d get there in a few days. I had tonnes of work to do, so would keep busy in the room until he arrived I told myself.”
Sitting alone in her hotel room, she realised she had been duped when he told her to send him more money after he was ‘detained in Sri Lanka’.
“He asked me to send him money when I was in Hawaii waiting for him so he could get out of jail – that’s when I said “no way”. He’s not coming.’
When she checked out of her room, she realised James never paid for the booking because she was handed a bill for $1,500 after spending around six days in Hawaii alone.
Following six months of dating, Ms. Alexander said she never heard from James again when she tried to confront him.
The mother said she was so traumatised after falling victim to the online romance scam, she didn’t find love again until six years later when she met her now-partner Rick.
“I went back online six years later and found an amazing man, Rick – now my fiancé after two years together,” she said.
Seven years on, Ms. Alexander has since written a book about her whirlwind romance titled I love you, Send Money and even launched a business Love Assist Associates to help people find love online safely.
By sharing her story, Ms Alexander wanted to warn other women about the red flags of falling victim to online romance scams.
“It took me years to have the courage to talk about it. So much shame and guilt – very self-deprecating,” she said.
“I do not want anyone to go through what I did – years of self-deprivation and shame I never thought it could happen to me. But when the love goggles go on, love makes people do crazy things.
‘My experience changed my whole life and affected those around me. That’s why it’s so important for me to help others. It helps me to find meaning and purpose from the scam event.’
Source: Australian Scam Watch
June 26, 2020