Let's Be Secret Lovers


“Did you sleep well last night?” I was shaken a little when a stranger asked me that question. Online. Well…it was through the chat function on Words With Friends but we weren’t friends. He had invited me to play a game and I accepted. His question was creepy. I blocked him.

“Hi how r u?" Another stranger on WWF began a chat after I took my turn. “Why are you sending me messages?” I asked. “I just want to play a game.” He accused me of being rude. I don’t remember, but he may have blocked me.

“Hello pretty. If I may ask, where are you playing from?” Another stranger on Friends wants to chat. The only time I had ever used WWF chat was to say things to my friends like, “Great play!” or “I hate when I get “u, u, i , i, c, i, i.”

Curiosity drives me

This year I began receiving invitations to play with people I didn’t know. I saw no harm in it—more games, more rewards, more practice. After a slew of invitations from men to play WWF with them, I was curious about what drew them to me. I changed my profile to age 95, living in Antarctica but it didn’t seem to matter. I changed my profile picture but the invitations kept coming. Sometimes my profile photo included me with my husband. It didn’t matter.

Curiosity has always driven me so I began to look for answers concerning this phenomenon. Google helped me to find answers. It seems that women on various social platforms, especially older women, are up for grabs when it comes to men who prey on vulnerable people. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Words With Friends and not looking for men. On all platforms, I've been approached by men looking for women for one reason or another. As in all aspects of life online and off line, no place is safe when it comes to scams.

I began to research experiences others had had and I read warnings. I discovered how the scammers worked and I learned the answer to my main question— why? I should have known the answer was greed, something that drives scammers and some people in real life. Scammers often play to lonely, vulnerable women and eventually persuade them to send money to them through gift cards.

I wanted to confirm what I had read. I wanted to see how the game unraveled and how good the scammers might be. So I began a journey of playing with strangers on Words With Friends and developing a different persona (of course) named Serena.

What I read was confirmed. The men who invited me to play had a method and a covert motive.



My WWF Men

The strangers who invited me to play these friendly Scrabble type games had these names, none of them real, of course: Denny, Alex, Christopher, Diego, Gedrick, Harry, James, John, James, Pete, Richard.  Most had sad stories about why they were alone and lonely.


One wanted us to be "secret lovers" in spite of me telling him that I was happily married.

Another man, very quickly into the conversation, told me he wanted me for his wife.

Let’s focus on two of my favorite scammers


Scott Miller, Mr. OK Man

(Note: I copied their answers along with their mistakes.)
Scott Miller’s profile said he graduated from the United States Naval War College and that he was from Australia. He must have forgotten about the Australia in his profile because he told me, 

I’m from Los Angeles California but I’m stationed here in South Korea in peacekeeping mission and I have been here for one year and six months and this is my second time here I need to get my mission oh here fast because am tired of loneliness and I missed my daughter a lot where are you?

Although Scott said he is from California, he asked, so tell me how is the weather condition over there in your country?? Already, he does not speak of the US as his country.

My fictional character, Serena, mixed facts with fiction. I told him I was happily married which is true but then made up other details. When I said that my husband and I used the same phone and apps, it didn’t take him very long to ask me to use Hangout or to set up my own email, separate from my husband. He told me I could download Hangout in my “play store,” not an expression I’ve heard in the US. I set up a separate email account as Serena on a free site. However, even when I sent him the  email address (not Gmail), he assumed I was on Hangout which is associated with Gmail. I found that most of the scammers did not understand this distinction.

It’s interesting that many of these fakes talked about honesty! 

Scott: Well, I will appreciate us being good friends in sincerily, honesty and trust although we just knew each other what do you think? So tell me what do you think about being honesty
           
Serena: What a silly question. It’s the way the world should work but sadly it doesn’t.

Scott: I love and respects my job, I think it is a great job and I really like the adventure on it, although it’s a very risky and dangerous job but God always show his mercy towards me and sees me through. I attend press conference,Interviews,Meetings with top international Army Generals and Iraq officials. Speech to my soldiers,paper works and several other duties. I work 16 hours,4hours rest and 4 hours sleep, daily. I graduated from United States Military Academy in 1983 and holds Masters degrees in Administration from Central Michigan University and National Security and Strategic Studies from Naval War College.


Sooner than expected, he asked for money.

Scott: My dear I don’t have much connection on here that’s why I told you to get me an iTunes
card do you saw the massage I sent to you please dear can you help me get an iTunes gift card,
that’s the only way we can talk often

Serena: I don’t understand this at all. What is an iTunes gift card? It allows you to download songs? Why do you want me to buy you songs?

Scott: Dear I use the old version of Gmail application I want to use it to update the apps on my cell phone that’s the only way we can talk and when it’s not installed there will be no connection on the phone. Dear just try and get me the card ok because without the card they will be no internet connection on here ok pl

Serena: I bought an iTune card from a friend who lives next door. I hope this will work so we can continue to communicate! The code: Xf849U50cOKeWEyQ

He asked what was the amount and Serena told him $25. Of course, he was unaware that she had made up the code after researching the format of iTune codes.

Scott: Dear why don’t you take a picture of the card ok please just try take a picture of the card so I see it ok I just want to be sure ok Dear about to load the card but it’s say I should enter the country what’s country card is it?

Scott: Dear the 25$ don’t work on my phone because 25$ and it will not last for long can you get another 25$ to make it 50$ so I can get all my app instead?

Then Serena decided to confront him as a scammer trying to take advantage of her.
 
Serena: OMG!!!!!!!  OMG!!!!!! A friend just sent me this link!!!!! Did you just scam me???????? OMG!!!!! https://bradberens.com/2018/09/26/beware-the-words-with-friends-scammers/


Scott: Why will you say such a thing dear you’re been nice to me do yoh believe you’re talking to ascam I real ok am to old to play games ok if yoh want we can talk on hangout so I call you and send you my picture ok you just help me and now yoh are saying I scammed you dear am real ok your friend just want to spoil you day

Serena: I am so stupid! Why would you need money from me when you are in the military, attend important meetings and are a leader. This is what you told me! Maybe you lied to me? Of course you are a scammer. I gave you $25 and you ask for another $25. You told me that you are a man with a good job and probably make a lot of money. You sent me photos of you (?) in uniform. Maybe that’s not you at all? Why do you ask more money from me? You probably have more money than I do! I am gullible and stupid. I am glad I didn’t send you more money! You should be ashamed of yourself!!!!! Are you really Scott Miller? Do you really have the job you said?


You’ve gotta give it to him. He’s persistent. He swears he’s real and, after more conversation, he doubles the amount he asks for to $100, but not before a little sweet talk.

Scott: I know you have been sad, But chin up. There’s no reason to be blue when someone out there cares about you, You are such a special person, that you should never spend a single minute unhappy. Since smiles are contagious, I’m sending you many big smiles today and have a wonderful day! Smile now. You won’t regret it. Kisses my baby.

Then bam…he asks for more money.

Scott: please I don’t want you to go take our friendship and discuss with you friend they are not happy with you, you remember I told you that my Gmail have not been updated so I will not be able to talk to you all the time I want you dear to try and get me one today dear I want us to always talk more okay, dear remember the card you should not show or tell anyone about it and the 25$ dollar card you sent did not work please try and get me iTunes of $50 50$ each so you make it a 100$ okay. Please I really want us to continue this conversation okay, hope to hear from you sonn (hearts) Dear please and send the picture of the card so I can load it on time and please don’t let anyone one know you are going to get the card because there are people who don’t want your happiness, trust me on this sweet (heart emoji)

Then suddenly he tells Serena he will be flying to Iowa but doesn’t write to say he’s in Iowa. Serena sends him several messages asking if he’s in Iowa yet.

Serena: Scott, you disrespected me. I asked you twice if you were in Iowa. On June 17, you told me you were going there in two days. On June 20 I asked you if you were in Iowa . You ignored my question. Again on June 22 I asked if you were in Iowa. Again you ignored my question. Calling me “sweetie” means nothing if you ignore what I say!

Serena: You are unbelievable! You STILL HAVE NOT ANSWERED MY QUESTION! I understand being busy but my question is AGAIN: Are you in Iowa now? A test on Hangout will not work because I am not on Hangout and will not go there.

Scott: oh ok fine just go away ok u hurt me by your worlds ok stop yelling at me ok I don’tlike that ol fine an in Iowa now ok I don’t want to talk here anymore because am really tried of talking on email I prefer hangout and u say u don’t wanna get hangout so just forget about me ok

Then he sends what surely was his his last email. One word: “Bye” with  waving hands emojis.


But no, it was not the end:  He had a totally different scam approach out of nowhere.


Scott: The Union reward me with some Diamonds and Golds rings for some months now so I want you to email the company that you're my wife that I say they should sheap all the Diamonds and Golds rings to you then when the company have sheap them to you then you will now sell some of the Diamonds and Golds rings so that you can raised allot of millions then you will now send me some money after you have sell some of the Diamonds and Golds rings so that I can go and activate my account so that I will have access to my money in my bank account I love you so much that is the reason why I want you to do this OK I don't have access to my money now and I have allot of millions in my bank account I just need to activate my account so that I will have access to my money in my bank account Then you will keep some Golds rings for yourself and keep some Diamonds for me when I leave the here we will now use them OK
So I want you to email the company so that they will sheap all the Diamonds and Golds rings to you due to you been a good friends with me and I don't have anyone to tell ok pls 

UNBELIEVABLE!
 

Airborned62 (Denny)

Unlike scammer Scott, Airborned62 who told me his name was Denny, was literate in English. He immediately started with details about himself and asked specific details from me.

 Denny: Nice playing words with you, hope your are having a nice day? I’m from Brooklyn New York but currently in Syria due to my job. And you? I’m a Military Officer in the United State Army and you?

He said he went on military patrols for 3-4 hours at a time and told a sad story. At 54, he claimed to be a widower with two sons. His wife died of brain cancer three years ago. Serena asked who was taking care of his kids while he was away.

Denny: They’re in the Military boarding school back in the State

He had sort of a questionnaire and immediately tossed them into the conversation: 

Are you a Christian? Are you at work or at home? What’re your favorite foods? What’re your favorite drinks? Do you like shopping? What are your favorite colors? My favorite color is white and red, because the white stands for a pure heart and the red stands for love, so when you add the both of them together you have a pure hearted love, that is me because I do have a pure heart for love. What are your hobbies? Love, swimming, dancing, singing, and reading, walking on the beach, fishing, camping, romantic walks along the beach in my barefeet holding my woman’s hand, watching sunrises and sunsets Which sports do you most enjoy watching? Tell me what do you like and dislike? What are your favorite TV shows, movies you like watching? What are you doing now?

Denny: Can you drive a car?

Serena: Of course. Doesn’t everyone?

Denny: Nope I can also drive and I have two cars Tell me about the current house that you are living in, do you live alone?

He told Serena that most people have more than two cars. Hmmm...And then he wanted to communicate on—can you guess?—Hangout. In our email conversations, this scammer took on a romantic, poetic personality.

Denny: Good morning from here dear. Night has gone taking the darkness away from you now the sun is brightening your day to wake up and accept the opportunities given by the sun. As you start yet another day in your life, always remember that your troubles will come and go but friends like me will stay with you forever. Good morning.

Denny (on another morning): Rise and shine my friend. The sun is up, and the birds are singing to let you know just how great the morning is. They say that God created women in the image of man, but your beauty is beyond that of an angel. Good morning and enjoy your day. [emoji]

Then Denny began talking about belief in distance relationships and asking if I would like to get married again? I had told this scammer that I was divorced.

Denny: My wish is for God to grant me a lovely and understanding woman, because that will make me happy for the rest of my life

Denny: A beautiful morning to the best and most wonderful friend in the world. Night has gone taking the darkness away from you…now the sun is brightening your day, so wake up and accept the opportunities given by the sun. Good morning my dear [kiss emojis]

Serena told him that her grown daughters told her she shouldn’t trust him and he wanted to know why they were “monitoring” her and why she didn’t have her own privacy.

Serena: Family is important. They also share these things with me. They are absolutely not monitoring my privacy. I share with them what I want to share. Are you suggesting I should not share with them that I’ve met a most interesting man who I like talking with?

Denny: Thanks for the compliment But I suggest you should keep it to yourself if you don’t mind?

Serena: Why?

Denny: Because they can get your mind change about me, they don’t know me but already told you that you should not trust me. Do you live with your kids?

Serena: No. They are quite independent and spirited.

Denny: So how did they know about me? You told them?

Here it seems that he completely forgot our recent conversation. Maybe another person? Hmmm

Serena: Because I told them I met a most interesting man who is capturing my heart with his poetic greetings.

Denny: Smiles. You make me laugh a lot

Denny: Hello Serena, I'm very glad to receive this mail from you. When you wake up, Just let me know if you feel the same love in the air as i do, to wake up every morning finding that i have been blessed with such a precious friend like you, makes me feel the luckiest one. Every morning i express my gratitude to the almighty God for blessing me with such an honest and modest person as you. Good morning my sunshine. I hope you enjoyed you swimming, i wish i was there with you at there pool, i really like the way you express yourself to me. My job here is a bit stressful, i command NATO training and am also a patrol team leader. I don't have any Japanese friend, I and my kids love dogs a lot. I don't think i need much things to make me happy, all i need to makes me happy day and night is a lovely and understanding woman that's is trust trustworthy and caring. That will makes me happy for the rest of my life because true love is very hard to find.  my late wife was the most beautiful thing that i have ever experienced because she want me all even if am a mess, i didn't date the most beautiful woman in the world, i dated the woman who makes the world the most beautiful to me. when i experienced true love my life got changed. My kids like shopping a lot, swimming and they love visiting the zoo. No they don't have difference personalities. Once again thanks for the mail i really appreciate. ♥️

Serena: I value good hearts and I’m already beginning to see that you have a beautiful heart.

Denny:   I'm very glad to hear from you, you make me smiles a lot and I like the way you express yourself. My current job is OK, but when i retire i want to  settle down with the woman who is ready to love me, and we both have our own company.

[1] What would be the perfect setting for a first meeting with a new date?
As  for me I will take first to a nice fast food restaurant, share some ice cream together, drive around the town together, while in the evening, we both go to the best restaurant to have dinner, candle lights on the table, a nice loving blues music will be playing, pop some champagne together, look into her eyes and tell her how much I love her and tell her she means the whole world, and that she is the air that I am breathing, and that I will do love and cherish her till I die, tell her how lovely are lips her, then give her a lovely kiss, after that we both go out counting stars together, that I think will make my first date very lovely and romantic. My heart feel soft and tender for you  i don't want to be your friend just for friend sake i want to be with you in good times and bad times i want to share good ideas with you, been you friend means when ever you feel down i will be always here to lift you up. I like people been honest and you are so honest. You know my dear true love start with friendship but to think of it my heart feel calm chating with you and its seem so nice, i believe we are destined to meet. 

[2] In your free time what do you like doing my dear?

well in my free time i like playing golf,swimming,like reading books and watching movies but most of all what i do best is that i spend my time with the kids in the orphanage home play with them and provide shelter for them cause they are the leaders of tomorrow. I really like you know and its amazing to have a wonderful time with you and its also long i had a sweet and nice communication with a lady i believe there is a reason been together here and God knows the best. Life is special and I like to wake up feeling excited of what the new day brings, even if that means bouncing off the planets. I am an optimist who believes that everything happens for a good reason and you never know what destiny has for you and someone together. I'm looking for a lady, who's ready for a serious relationship that can lead to marriage, a sincere, honest, caring, understanding and loving lady to spend the rest of my life with.



[3] So tell me what are the things you like in a man and what you dislike.

My advise i will give to you is that just let your heart to be free cause am here for you anytime you need me you can lean on me, Right now my heart beat for you not because of your appearance but my heart can feel you. I feel something special for you and i will take my time and take it slow and tell you we are met for each other when the time comes. I have been through a lot as a man and have conquered much opposition in life as well and would love to meet someone who will understand how been hurt feels and would love to find a honest relationship, I want the love that's been locked in my heart for so long to be unlocked by that special lady like you. Imagine opening your eyes each and every morning and smiling at the thought that this new day is completely different and brings new excitement, and that the person you're with feels exactly the same way. Well, I don't think that the age difference or distance between us should be a barrier, rather, the most important thing is for us to be sure if we really find understanding, happiness and joy within each other. Above all, I think love is the greatest, don't you also think so?... As for me, I feel lonely a lot of times and that's why I need to find my true love, a person that will love me as much as i will love her. I have a feeling that destiny brought us together for a reason. As time passes by, we'll find out if we're compatible with each other. From my own opinion, when it comes to marriage, there's actually nothing superior than being with your soul mate, some one who truly adores you, understands you, cherishes and loves you the way you are, don't you think so?



It really takes strength, patience, understanding and discipline to build a responsible family where there's love, peace and harmony and that's the kind of family I want, what about you?  

I need some one like you to share ideas with for good relationship i hope you agree with me? 

Actually, if we build a strong relationship with each other, I will travel directly from here to meet you in your state so that we can be together and make some plans towards our future.  

All I need in a woman is a care, trust, understanding, sincerity, faithfulness and respect in other for us to spend the rest of our lives together and happily. I also value the sense of humor in a woman, 



What interest you in a man? 



well, I'm caring, out-spoken, humorous, understanding, passionate and cheerful. Definitely, you will be the one to see for yourself by the time we will be together. I really don't like a dirty woman, what about you? what are the habits that you hate in a man?



[4] If I may ask, are you romantic?



As for me, I'm a romantic man, I know how to make my woman contented with my love and If I eventually love you or you finally become my wife, I will love you with all my heart, respect you, care for you, cherish you so much and treat you like a Queen because I'll be ready to take sacrifices in order to make you happy and be there for you. I'm so happy to hear from you and it's really becoming interesting as we get to know more about each other. 

Have a wonderful night rest. hugs and kisses for you dearπŸ’‹πŸ˜˜πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’‹
 
Now Serena can see that Denny is picking up speed, especially in his next message but she wasn’t expecting it so soon.


Denny: Dear my heart is calling out for you. Being miles apart from you is like salt dripping on an open wound. I never thought I could love someone so much as I like and think much of you......even though we're far apart. My heart seems to grow fond of you with every second that goes by..... of this great distance that separates us. I know that some decisions are hard to make, but when affection and love prevail over any other interests, then all the roads to happiness become wide open and danger free. First of all, I would like to make sure you know that I love you very much.

I also need you to know that there`s nothing more beautiful in the world than what is happening between us right now; I feel we are growing closer and getting along really well. I feel we are becoming more intimate in every sense, and that`s the most gratifying thing two human beings could wish for. That is why I need to remind you even if that takes a simple message like this, that you don`t have to be afraid of anything, as close and united partners. Distance, like you may have known, doesn't matter if you really want someone, what matters most is your honesty and trust for that relationship to work out. Distance is the key to love's eternity and love knows not distance, it hath no continent, its eyes are for the stars. Even if you are far away, you are always close to my heart. It's good that we are far away because we learn the patient to wait for each other and cherish our love. I long for the day I'll dream of your sexiness no more, when your lips will caress mine for real, when your touch will make me alive again, and the sight of you arouses all my senses. Though the miles may spread out far and wide, and time may wear our faith too thin, I know that the golden bond of love shall keep us close at heart.



Dear I need a favor from you, Please I would have liked that you get some Amazon gift cards for me, need them to purchase some books online. I need these books to help me with some psychological issues. I'm just having some hard time dealing with the scenes we witness here, the Doctor here just gave me a few pills and he was the one that recommended that i read 

(1)The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Heidt

(2)Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

And a few more but i just want these two for now and I would also use it to update my military customized IPad. The books will cost about $184 
So i think $200 will resolve that for me. 

I will really appreciate if you could help me out.πŸ’‹



Serena: To be honest with you, I am really puzzled by your request for access to an Amazon gift card. I feel for you and what you may be witnesses in a war zone! I can only imagine. My love, how are you suffering psychologically! I’m glad your doctor gave you some pills to help you cope but why do you need my assistance financially? You told me you have two cars and are paid well. Denny, I really don’t understand your request.  Please tell me more. My heart is opening to you but part of your latest message doesn’t make sense to me. ????? Of course, after you explain to me, I will help how I can but I am troubled. xoxo

Denny: Every morning, I wake up, smile, and thank God for all the wonderful blessings in my life. You are one of those blessings, my dear friend. You have been for a very long time. I know that I don’t say it a lot, but I really love you! My life is happier and crazier because of you. If you hadn’t been my friend, I think I would still be a huge introvert. You were one of those few and trusted ones who brought me out of my shell. Thank you for doing that, and thank you for always being a friend to me. I love you! Good morning princess, hope you had an amazing night's rest.On this beautiful morning, i wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you. You were my first thought the moment I opened my eyes. I know you must be sleeping by now and hope that you had an amazing night dreaming of us. Serena I  lost both parent when I was 17 years old, I partly took care of myself afterwards till I grew up and became a man. I simply wear my heart on my sleeve and have a lot of love and time to give to those who are special to me.. I like to travel and experience other cultures... My job as a SSG officer in the U.S. army. I take time to explore the many places that I visit. I am constantly amazed by the cities I go to. I also love to listen to music. I was born in New York grew up at Germany and Spain. Everyone say I have an accent, I have two children boys precisely named Alex and Ryan I’m originally from Brooklyn New York. I’m 5”6, 205 Ibs, with an average physique and I have always been a very sports- oriented / active person. I love nature, art and animals. Your daughters got nice names, I and my kids likes Trek. Yeah my kids would love to have stepmom, they have talked to me about getting a new wife a long time ago but I told them that I will soon. I even wanted to email them today about you but I wanted to let you know first if I should tell them about us or not and I know they will be very happy about us. I can fly an helicopter and yes I have been deployed in Yemen before. You seem nice..I'm not looking for someone to live with, I'm looking for someone I can't live without. Giving away a heart can hurt .... having a broken heart can be life threatening, even to the strongest people. But receiving one is the greatest gift....




Getting close to me is the sweetest thing you can ever get....how long you've known me that really matters but how the chemistry between both of us clicks.  I love to see your messages that you leave for me, even though you are a million miles away from me I can feel the love so strong and pure, it's like magic coming through to my heart and reaching the love that I have for you. I love you so much Serena. I'll love you till my last breath, and when we are in heaven then is when you'll know the love that we share how strong and mighty God blessed us with, cuz right now I can only know the tears that I feel cuz Godgave me you, and I can only know you through miles until I can actually touch and see your face, then is when my world will be happiness that only God can give, a happiness and love that I have never known, you are one amazing lady and I Love You with All My Heart And Soul.   I've never knew I could meet someone like you through the internet, but then God whispered softly to my heart that you have made me feel like I can face anything this world shoves in my face and I love you so much. I want your decision on this to come from your heart, i just want a happy and quiet life after my retirement, And i don't want another young lady to play around with. I don't need anymore kids, i'm okay with the ones i've got. I just want true happiness and i find that in you, younger ladies still wants to play around and go cruise at the beach.  i haven't been in another relationship since my wife passed away. I don't fall in love easily dear, i look deep inside a woman before showing my feelings. If i see something in her that i don't like then that might be the end of us. Mere look isn't enough to tell if a woman is beautiful or not, there's a lot covered behind those beauties.  You need trust to love, first you need to love in order to trust.To love someone is to understand each other, to laugh together, to smile with your heart and to trust one another. One important thing is to let each other go if you can't do this. Love is like a wonderful feeling of compassion and satisfaction. It's dangerous here but we are doing our possible best to keep global peace and protecting lives. I have a lot but i can't access my bank accounts from here, We get paid twice a month but the cash is been deposited in our bank accounts back in the states. That’s why I needed you to help me. Waiting for your email

Love you πŸ˜πŸ’•



Serena: I feel your psychological pain. You are such a sensitive man and you are living in an area that is so infected with war. I don’t think I could handle that at all. I am sorry you are going through this but know that it will not be forever. Unlike your present job which will end when you retire, loving relationships are forever. God will help you through the bumps in the road now. I want so much to help you and hope my messages do. I hope this Amazon card will help you find your center, your balance. It is for $150 because I just paid a big property tax bill last week. I hope this will help! 
NF14-UC3KYO-U41M5


Denny: You send me some code in the last email Have you finish eate?


Serena: Amazon card code. I bought from a friend who had an unused card she didn’t want.


Denny:  Ohh really and serious?


You have gotten the card already?



Serena: She called me and I told her I was going to get an Amazon gift card for an out of state friend. She said she had one she hadn’t used and would rather have the cash. Perfect! She read the code to me and I wrote it down. I’m giving her cash on Monday. I’m worried about you.



Denny: Thanks dear I really really appreciate what you have just don for me. I don’t know how to thank you. Dear I want you to be strong for me and also put me in your prayers.



Serena: You need to maintain emotional balance in a dangerous part of the world. You are important to our country with your service. People don’t always appreciate our military. You are in my prayers already.



Denny: Dear I don’t want you to discuss our relationship with anyone until am home with you.



Thanks for been there for me and am always here for you too. you’re safe with me. Once again thanks



Dear I need you to tell your friend to snap the card and send it to you via email and then yu forward it to me.



Much love



Serena: Take a picture of it?



Denny: Yeah
 
This scammer did not know that I was investigating some things. First, the photos he sent via email were obviously downloaded from Facebook. I knew from the long file names and the metadata that FB or someone (maybe a scammer data base?) seems to have added. 


Denny sent photos to Serena by email and claimed one was of him at his job in the army and the other was him with his two sons.
It took a while but I found the man the photos were stolen from on Facebook and read enough of his posts to be sure that Denny and this real man were not the same people. I was ready for this to end. By this time, I had grown tired of all the time this had taken and I’m glad he moved as quickly as he did. With his last Yeah, I blocked him from my Words With Friends and wrote this last email  message. 

Serena's FK off message:


From incognito Serena to scammer Denny:  

Dear whoever you are…

Shame on you!!! You wrote of trust and love in your messages but you are not someone who can be trusted. You are certainly not in the photos you sent to me. They were stolen from Nxxx Cxxxxx’s Facebook posts. He is from Minnesota and his older son passed his driving test in September of 2018. You play with hearts to take advantage of lonely women who you ask money from. And God? You are not a man who has any relationship with God! And we will no longer have a relationship too.

Of course the Amazon card will not work. Look again at the hidden message I put in it.

Good riddance!

Not Serena


Note the hidden word in the fake code: NF14-UC3KYO-U41M5

What I observed

  • All of these men wanted to chat more than play WWF. However, one or two were especially good and proved challenging with word plays. I suspect they were using Scrabble cheating sites.
  • Soon after our games began, most began to use the chat feature of WWF and then quickly wanted me to communicate with them on the Google Hangout app, WhatsApp or texting on cell phone. They did not want to use email although several did use it to communicate with me on one I set up just for my “research.”
  • Most said they were not living in the US and had an excuse for being out of the country or off-shore--they were in the military or had a job on an off-shore oil rig. 
  • Most said they were widowed or divorced with one or two dependent children living with a nanny or in boarding school. They had sad stories.
  • All most likely used photos stolen from online social sites like Facebook and one I traced back to a particular FB man.
  • All seemed to have some problems with the English language, some more than others.
  • With some, because of disjointed conversations, I suspect there might have been several different people at their end and they took turns.
  • Once the “relationship” went to a certain point, none wanted “Serena” to share anything about the relationship with real friends or family. "Your friends don't know me and they will try to change your mind. They don't want you to be happy. I want you to be happy."
  • All used “dear” and “sweetie” and other endearing terms, often almost right away.
  • Some said they wanted to marry me.
  • Most began with “Hi” and then quickly asked where I was playing from. Then they soon had  questions about weather, job, favorites (color, hobby, activities, etc.) and family.
  • They all slipped up on details they gave to me and made conflicting statements.
  • They all pushed for Hangout as the platform for communication.
  • Often they slipped awkwardly between serious conversation and trivial questions, as if they were following a disjointed script. I’m sure many of them followed the same script, “what are you doing now? “ “honesty is important to me,” etc.
  • Years ago, everyone used to think that AOL was the only email around. These scammers seem to think that everyone has Gmail which ultimately connects with Hangout.

People want to believe

In today’s world, especially online, we have to be alert to those who want to use us for their gain. It is a challenge, even to those who are experienced and savvy. There are certain rules to follow:

Besides the obvious—use virus protection, don’t open attachments or links from people you don’t know, be careful what you download, be careful what you post, keep your anti-virus program up to date, if it sounds too good to be true it is—there are other things to keep in mind.

Never give out personal information to strangers. If you use a dating app and want to meet someone, make it in a public place. Generally beware.

I am amazed that we continue to receive outrageous emails from obvious scammers. They must have some degree of success if they continue to do this.

I used to be on LinkedIn until I received an email telling me what my password was. It was my correct password. LinkedIn had been hacked a couple years ago and I guess it is taking scammers time to go through their treasure trove. Then I read the rest of the email more closely. They said they had videos of me going to porn sights and responding at my desktop in front of my camera in—ahem—embarrassing ways. Furthermore, “they” had my contact list and would send their dirty proof to the first ten people in my contacts.

Because of the revealed password, I can imagine some people might panic had they been participating in certain activities.  The scammers demanded to be paid in bitcoin currency and if they weren’t, undesirable things would be unleashed and sent out to the victim’s family, friends and business associates. Luckily, all I had to do was to close my LinkedIn account (which I didn’t use anyway) and be sure I didn’t use that password for any other account (which I didn’t). That was the end of that email and my LinkedIn account. Simple solution.

I remember years ago when I found a site that showed read time video of hundreds of men on separate screens in front of their computers jerking off. I wasn’t interested in watching their activity and I wasn’t offended. I was just sad and I captured it on video and added the Beetles “Look at all the Lonely People.” This was on VHS and I’m sure I no longer have it but my response was to create a piece of art (?) with a statement.

What saddens me is that there are some very lonely people who are so needy that it makes them vulnerable. In spite of all the warning signs, they want to believe so much that they fall for these scammer tricks. They are told they make someone happy.  Someone tells them, "I love you."They become believers.

Be careful out there in cyberspace. Hold on to your heart and your money.


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See below links for more information. The first is the most recent, sad and interesting story from the New York Times.











































 
















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