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By Tom Blake
Three months ago, at the request of several singles age 50 and older who wanted to correspond and exchange photos and stories with other like-minded singles, I started a Finding Love After 50 Facebook group. It is a friendship group, not a dating group, but people might still meet a potential mate there.
I decided to make it what Facebook calls a “closed” group to which I must approve of all members who want to join. In that way, I can screen people by checking their profiles to attempt to keep scammers and people with bad intentions out of the group.
While the membership has grown to 450, I’ve rejected more than 43 people from joining and removed a few members who made inappropriate posts. Last week, Rose, from South Africa, who has read my online articles for years, emailed: “A good-looking man joined our group last week. He contacted me immediately; we email every day. He says he is working in England and when he finishes there next week, he wants to visit me and for me to be his woman.”
I remember approving him. His profile revealed a handsome guy originally from England, now residing in Oklahoma; his Facebook page showed nothing suspicious.
Rose added, “My concern: why so quick? He says we could live a few years here and then relocate back to Germany, where I’m from, or Oklahoma. I asked him how old he is, if he’s divorced or has kids and what he’s doing, and he doesn’t respond. I’m very worried.”
I told Rose to be very careful. Anybody who tries to rush a relationship after one week has ulterior motives.
When Rose emailed him that she was uncomfortable, he responded: “…I like going to beach, swim, dance, write poem, dinner, hanging around with friends and going to church…I have been married twice my first wife died from fibroid complications…
“I had to get out of retirement to quickly see what I can do to get back on my feet,” the email continued. “Luckily for me I got a contract from a construction company in Africa and I am currently importing 4,000 tonns [sic] of 16mm Steelrods [sic] that will go to Benin…This is my last job as I am finally planning to settle down with a woman I want to grow old with live a life of happiness and love together. I hope you are ready to be spoilt beyond measures…”
The grammatical errors have not been edited to reflect the nature of the email.
I wrote to Rose: “For a guy whose first language is English, this email is filled with grammar, capitalization and spelling mistakes. It was not written by an English-speaking person. Benin is a country in Africa next to Nigeria. He is a scammer; cut him off immediately.”
Rose responded: “You are right. Fifteen minutes ago he came online and said he was robbed of all of his possessions—wallet, credit card, jewelry, etc. Then he asked for $400 to lend him and he will fly back to the USA to get money and then come straight to South Africa to be with me.” She blocked him from further contact.
Everything romance scammers post is bogus. They search online for vulnerable people and try to exploit them. I removed him from our Finding Love After 50 Facebook group, grateful for Rose’s diligence and certain we had stopped a romance scammer.
When I posted this incident to the Facebook page, several women said he tried to befriend them in that first week as well.
And while email, websites, and social media are wonderful and useful tools, we must realize that anyone can be anyone, hidden behind the mask of communication.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. His latest book can be found online at, www.smashwords.com/books/view/574810. See his website at www.findingloveafter60.com (Yes, after 60. Time rolls on.) To comment: email@example.com.
The next age 50-plus singles Meet and Greet will be held Thursday, September 24, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point. For information, call 949.248.9008.