Widow Terrie Krumal was a certified educator and a counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Service for over ten years. Her background and training is regarding credit and housing counseling. She shares invaluable information dealing with online dating that she has given me permission to share with you in her own words.
Losing a spouse can be a debilitating event that can affect us for weeks, months or even years. Honestly, I don’t think we ever get over it or get used to it. We all react so differently to that life event, but one trait is very common. Until the “fog” clears, our minds don’t quite connect, analyze or warn us when there is imminent danger. This is such a well-known fact that the dating scammers and con men specifically target widows. The cons know just what to say and in such a caring way that it catches a person off guard. Just check with the Better Business Bureau regarding door to door sales. If we are not analyzing all information the scammer/con man has shared with us, we become easy prey.
Let me pause here for just a moment and share that I thought I would be writing these words of caution to women regarding online dating, but after talking to several people, this information needs to apply to all of the other ways of meeting men.
There are ways to meet men – at church, at exercise class, at the grocery store or at stained glass workshops – and we assume that they are harmless and are the safest way to go. This is not necessarily the case. Maybe a little safer than online meetings, but those areas noted above still have con artists, scammers and not so nice guys. We must keep in mind that scammers/con men are out there in great numbers and are getting very sophisticated in their relationships. It behooves us to educate ourselves in preparation for meeting ANY man and to steel our resolves on how we connect with them and what we share with them.
Several celebrities such as Dr. Phil have covered the topic of online dating pointing out the perils of most of the websites. When Dr. Phil presented the facts of the scam, some women refused to believe him. This was even when faced with the truth.
Many of the websites give alerts to the dangers that may lurk in their website and how to avoid them. The Federal Trade Commission devotes a large segment on their website to the scams of dating websites. This is a great indicator of how elevated this issue has become. The victims are now in the tens of thousands.
But when you watch TV and talk to others who have had a good experience with the websites (and it does happen!), it’s hard to keep in mind the dangers that may lie ahead. We may become so desperate that we ignore those dangers even when we are having something inside warning us to run the other way!!
So, with all that in mind and with my previous employment experience as a consumer credit counselor who cautioned people on many scams, I felt I was educated enough to come up against the scammers and not fall for any of their tricks. I felt I could sort the good from the bad and the ugly!!
BOY, WAS I WRONG!!
Right now I want to stop and say if you have been scammed or in a relationship that may be a scam, please STOP and talk to a friend, a pastor or a trusted counselor. Please don’t be embarrassed or hesitant to talk to someone now. You need to seek the wisdom and discernment of a trusted individual.
Why do we “go looking for love in all the wrong places” and how do these people break down our barriers and succeed in taking advantage of us?
They shower you with loving words, the desire to meet you soon and the aspiration to “lay the world at your feet”. Sorry, but when you are a widow and you haven’t heard those words or felt that way for some time, it’s very easy to fall for their approach. They build up a relationship and you trust in them. Then they ask you for money. Not for themselves (of course!), but for a “sick child” or gifts for an orphan (really!) or a struggling business.
Or, they ask for your address so they can send you gifts and flowers, but what comes are delinquent bills, money laundering scams or even bank fraud. If you start to question them, they usually get defiant and angry or try to turn it around and make you the problem.
The Federal Trade Commission has a wonderful website with information regarding scams, what to do if you have become a victim of any type of scam other than dating website scams and many more scam details. You can file a complaint and if given enough time and details, they can catch the thieves. Unfortunately most women are so embarrassed that they never step forward and file a complaint.
The very first piece of advice is NEVER EVER go offsite. Once they convince you to go off the dating website, the scamming starts. If you remain on the website, most companies track certain “buzz words”, will advise you of a problem and then block the culprit. You are safer there than offsite, but you still have to remain diligent and cautious in your contacts. Be very careful with the information that you share with others. You don’t need to share everything with them no matter what they say. I actually made up details when someone was asking too much information – another warning sign.
In conclusion, put your life in God’s hands and He will guide you. He has a plan for your life and if there is another man for you, He will make it happen. I hope that doesn’t sound too trite, but being in your same situation as a widow, I have come to the conclusion that it will happen in God’s time. I just have to stop what I am doing and trust Him. After all, He is a good God and He loves us.