From Russia, but No Love
Six years ago, Andy met Bethany, the woman he calls his "soul mate." They moved in together.
"She was the woman whom I fully intended to grow old with. I loved her more than life itself. She was my world."
Unfortunately, Bethany died in April in a car accident. "I was devastated. I'm still in shock today, five months later. After her funeral, I was supposed to somehow pick up the pieces of my life and continue forward. I live and work out in the country -- no neighbors, no friends. This has been the most difficult time in my life."
Andy says he needed someone to talk to, so, like many lonely people, he joined a dating website two months after Bethany's death. "I wanted to find a friend."
Two weeks later, he got an email from a Russian woman named Maria. She attached a picture of herself and her mother standing in front of a flower shop on a sunny day. She was very attractive, with long brown hair. She was dressed in jeans and a tight shirt that showed off an enviable figure. She was with her mother, another very attractive woman.
"In her email, she basically said she thought we were made for each other. She asked if I would like to correspond with her so we could get to know each other. I thought, sure, why not? I could use a friend to talk with."
Andy says they emailed each other every day for the next 10 weeks. They never missed a day. Maria told Andy she was a music teacher and lived with her mother in an apartment.
By the 10th week of correspondence, Maria had convinced Andy that she wanted to visit him. She would get a six-month visa. She told him she would make all the arrangements. He agreed.
"When she was at the airport, she started running into problems. She needed to borrow money. I asked for photocopies of the airplane ticket, the receipt and the other documents requiring money, a total of $2,560. She emailed all the things I asked for within 10 minutes!"
He wired her the money. But she never came. The last email Andy got from her said she needed a certain citizenship paper that would cost more money. He refused to send it and hasn't heard from her since. He's tried to contact her at the same email address, but she hasn't responded.
"What a fool I was. I can't believe I actually believed what she was telling me. But over all those weeks, she knew all the right things to say and could back up any part of her story with documents and pictures. This obviously wasn't her first time doing this. Whoever she is or they are, they're very smart and have taken care of details so that the story seems totally legit.
"I don't really know why I'm telling you this story. I know complaining about it isn't going to do me any good. In fact, it may do the opposite. If someone I know finds out, I'll be laughed at mercilessly."
Have you been the victim of a relationship scam? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."