Love & Money: Romance Scams with April Helm – EP 380

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Romance could show you incredible things like magic, madness, heaven, and sin. But in today’s special Valentine episode, Jen and Jill uncover a different kind as April Helm recounts 3 stories of romance money scams. The cautionary note is clear: “Love’s a game, wanna play?” Be careful because your next mistake could be a big one. 

Vulnerability is what makes the romance scams all more difficult or layered as the victim usually seeks for love, partnership, companionship, and is in a vulnerable place.


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Dating A Celebrity Catfish

April shares a story about a woman named Aubrey (not her real name) who was scammed $250,000 by someone pretending to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. At the time, Aubrey initially believed the scammer’s claims, as she had met The Rock during her time as a flight attendant, and the scammer accurately predicted events about Dwayne Johnson before they even appeared on social media, further making Aubrey believe it was the real celebrity she was talking to for 2 years.

However, suspicions arose when the scammer failed to follow through on promises, such as purchasing a house together and never showing up on planned meet-ups. A friend of The Rock, a journalist, wrote articles painting Aubrey a scammer by accusing her that she just wanted Dwayne’s attention and money. This led to emotional distress and a near-suicidal episode for Aubrey due to the embarrassment she felt from the experience.

A Million Dollars For Love

A US spy or intel officer, recently widowed, was scammed for a million dollars by a British man she met on a legitimate dating app. He asked for small amounts of money at first, but gradually escalated the requests with promises of repayment from future business deals. It went on for 2 years, but eventually she realized he was fake and found out he was a 21-year-old man from South America when he initially used a photo of a middle-aged man. Once she confronted the scammer through a video chat, he insisted on continuing to date, but she firmly said no to it. April emphasizes the vulnerability of even intelligent and well-educated individuals to romance scams, especially when seeking companionship after loss.

Red Flags in Online Dating

In 2016, April’s mother fell victim to a devastating scam, losing $350,000. The scam led to the loss of her home, car, and ultimately her life. Despite April’s warnings, her mother fell deeply into the scammers’ deception, entrusting a significant sum of money to three men she believed to be genuine. Even in the face of her own battle with ovarian cancer, she clung to the hope of finding love and security, which the scammer took advantage of.

One of the scammers even tried to scam April, threatening her about an “explicit video” that will be released if she doesn’t send money, to which April just laughed off and demanded he send her the non-existent video. Since then, she has not heard from the scammer, and it’s difficult to press charges as they’re from another country. April says the common red flags from online dating scammers are if they ask you for money, when they have a sob story, they profess their love for you fairly quickly, their grammar is terrible, and they are interested in knowing everything about you.

What type of scam would you most likely fall for?

  • April: A promise of better work with double pay
  • Jen: When an old friend offers an opportunity to join girl boss team
  • Jill: Free hot dogs, only to find they’re passing out warm puppies

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Bill of The Week

Thank you April for sharing your bill about saving money on exercise equipment and canceling gym membership!

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