I’m often asked why having the ability to seek justice is so important for victims of sexual fraud. I’ve seen that the pursuit of justice, regardless of the outcome, can bring a sense of closure and empowerment that turns victims into survivors.
Lauren began her search for justice by reporting the offender to the police. Even though she was tricked into a sexual relationship and defrauded of considerable money, they did absolutely nothing for her. Only because she had sufficient assets was she able to pursue an alternative means. But even so, no outcome is ever guaranteed, and many victims simply lack the finances to take the chance.
When we first met, Lauren was totally despondent, angry and shamed by what she’d encountered. I had a front row seat to the anguish she felt. Today, when people ask me why the ability to seek justice is so powerful, I can point to her story. Here’s her first installment:
Finding Closure After Exploitation
This story is about a romance scam that happened to me and the journey that followed. There is much more awareness of these types of scams now, but at the time it happened to me, I was completely unprepared for my encounter with this man. I grew up in a world trusting others and believing them when they would tell me about their lives.
The world of on-line dating has expanded the possibilities of meeting people that we never would have encountered in day-to-day life. The dating profile in and of itself, provides the scammer with a bevy of information to target you, groom you, and prey on you.
Reports on the internet state averages of $10-22,000 for the typical romance scam. It’s pretty hard to chase someone legally for these amounts of money as the legal costs may not be worth the risk.
Unfortunately, there are not laws in place to criminalize it in most states. The FBI has a site to report romance scams and has information and educational videos on romance scams.
I took a chance on finding love
In 2013, I met the man who I thought was the man of my dreams, on a popular upscale dating site. He was a romantic Italian man, sophisticated, successful, and he swept me off my feet. He was very impressive, a former cruise ship officer who graduated from Amerigo Vespucci Maritime Institute and had travelled on NATO warships around the world.
He had an abdominal scar from a knife attack in an alley in Beirut when he was assaulted by thugs during his NATO days. He had a legendary career in the U.S. and masterminded the Suzanne Somers Thigh Master marketing. The blue leotard was his idea!
He was associated with marketing other celebrities such as Tony Gazelle. He had associates who were investing in a venture that Donald Trump was invested in. He promised me a wonderful life together, forever and ever.
Our brief utopia turned downhill
After a whirlwind romance of two weeks, he suddenly moved away for a critical job relocation which would make him quite wealthy. I had two romantic visits to Couer d’Alene, Idaho, a pristine lakeside town nestled in the mountains where he stayed in an exclusive lakefront condominium.
Over several months, business problems, financial problems, and medical crises ensued. He turned to me to help him out of a dire medical and financial crisis with promises to pay me back, as he was on the brink of making a fortune. He eventually acquired a total of $16,000 from me to help with these urgent situations. Then, the company folded and he was without work.
Several months later, in 2014, he came to visit me in Florida and I was astounded when he made a plea for $65,000 to help with a series of desperate situations. When I told him I did not have the money, he asked me to get it from my retirement funds.
To be continued on Wednesday, 3/21/18