For most people in the millennial generation and younger, we’ve had at least some sort of education about online swindlers. We’re taught to exercise extreme caution when dealing with people we meet online. Don’t offer up valuable information about yourself and, of course, never send them money. Unfortunately, the older generations who didn’t grow up with the internet never received this education. This leads to some people being swindled out of a lot of money. In a similar way to the Netflix show Tinder Swindler, this woman’s online “boyfriend” convinced her to send him over $1 million and even sell her house to help him pay his “debts”.
The Woman Who Got Swindled Just Like In Netflix’s Tinder Swindler
Last month the Netflix show Tinder Swindler became an instant success. The show follows the story of how one man convinced women he met on Tinder to send him millions of dollars. Unfortunately, stories like the one on Netflix aren’t the only ones out there. Crooks have been taking advantage of vulnerable people for years online. Quite often those affected the most are older generations. This is what happened to Jane. Over the course of 18 months, she sent her online boyfriend Jonathan $1 million. She still has never met him in person. (1)
The Netflix-Like Swindle
Jane met Jonathan online and was quickly smitten by his charm and apparent dashing personality. He sent her photos of himself (or at least, who Jane thinks he is) and they spent hours talking. Jonathan told her he was Australian, which she believed because she said he did have a bit of an accent. He told her he was a widower of five years and had a 19-year-old daughter.
He then went on to explain that he was working his dream job on a construction site in Miami. Unfortunately, he was in extreme debt due to payments being owed from past projects. Jonathan told her that he was being held captive at the Miami construction site and would not be released until his debts were paid. He also could not Facetime her because he didn’t have a high enough quality phone.
Jane describes Jonathan as a caring, sensitive person who wears his heart on his sleeve. While on the Dr. Phil show she said that she was in love with him and would do nearly anything to help him. During the interview with Dr. Phil, she says he simply “sweet-talked” her.
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A One-Sided Relationship
After about two weeks, Jane began sending Jonathan money. He said once he had paid his debts, he would then be able to collect the 10.3 million he was owed from other projects. Once he was free and had that money, the pair could live together in Miami.
Jane says she wasn’t concerned about the money she was giving him because she knew that once he was free, he would take care of her. With the money he was set to earn, they would be financially stable. He even convinced her to sell her house – her dream home, as she describes it – and give him $140,000 of the profits. After 18 months of sending Jonathan $1 million through wire transfers, many banks now refuse to work with Jane. She says that some have stopped under suspicion that she is funding terrorist activity.
Dr. Phil Brings the Truth
Jonathan apparently told Jane he’s coming to see her 16 times and hasn’t shown up. He also told her he is being held hostage. Dr. Phil reminded Jane that this is illegal in The United States of America. He put together a search unit to find this man, and they did. Then, they brought him into the show. As you can imagine, the whole thing was a scam.
Sadly, as the Netflix show Tinder Swindler pointed out, this isn’t a one-time success story. People like Jonathan and the Tinder Swindler Simon Leviev do things like this all the time and get away with it. They prey on vulnerable people and use that to take advantage of them. If anything, Jane’s story and that of the Netflix special serve as reminders. We need to use extreme caution online, especially when talking to strangers. Never send money or personal information. If you are going to meet someone, do so in a public place. Most importantly, if something seems off, or your friends and family are telling you that it is, trust that instinct. You are most likely right. (2)