REAL LIFE

Web of lies – My man’s double life cost me my house

She thought she had found the perfect man.

Single mum Jordan thought she’d found the perfect man…

Here, Jordan tells the story in her own words.

Putting on the kettle, I let out another giggle.

‘What about FunnyGirl?’ I suggested to my daughters, Sage, then 12, and Ella, 10.

We were setting up my online dating profile in the kitchen, and the first order of business was deciding on my username.

A single mum of two beautiful girls, I was ready to dip my toes back into the dating pool. My friends had urged me to try online.

‘People are getting married after meeting their soulmate on these sites!’ one gushed.

Being a soppy romantic, I dreamed of finding a wonderful man and falling head over heels.

Me, Ella and Sage
Me, Ella and Sage

After filling out my profile, I headed to bed.

I woke up the following day feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, excited to see if I had any matches.

One was a man with the username ‘Jcarl’.

A successful 50-year-old businessman, Jcarl had dark hair and piercing blue eyes.

His profile revealed he was a railway engineer and over six feet in height.

Tall, dark and handsome… I ticked off in my mind.

Taking a deep breath, I typed out a message and the next day, he’d written me a lengthy response.

My name is James Norman. I travel a lot but I think we can make this work, he said.

He told me he was living between the US and London. And the more we chatted, the more he opened up to me.

He’d been widowed eight years earlier and had a son, Mike. He sent pictures of them both, his smiling face taking my breath away. He could be ‘the one’, I thought.

After emailing back and forth for weeks, he phoned.

‘Jordan, darling, it’s James. So nice to finally speak with you,’ his voice crackled over the bad line.

After that, we chatted on the phone almost daily – finding ways to work around the time zones. Often, it would cut out so I’d stay up until 3am to message online. And soon, I was typing out those three magic words, I love you.

'James' was tall, dark and handsome
‘James’ was tall, dark and handsome

Finally, four months after we’d first started speaking, we made plans to meet in Hawaii in four weeks’ time.

James’ assistant Charles sent me details of the booking at a luxurious hotel in Waikiki, all paid for.

When I told my friends they were glad I was meeting him in a neutral place. But then James started having business problems.

‘The internet isn’t stable here,’ he told me. ‘I need you to help me transfer money.’

Logging into his account, I was stunned to see millions in it. So I wired money.

But the next day, James was in another sticky situation. ‘I can’t access any of my money,’ he explained. ‘I need $15,000.’

I worked as a consultant, but after rent and raising the girls, I didn’t have much left over at all.

‘If I can’t sort this out I might not be able to meet you,’ he said.

Desperate to see him in Hawaii, I borrowed from the bank and sent the money. But he needed more, this time for an expensive business deal. Then he needed more… and more…

‘I’ll pay you back before the trip,’ he promised. I maxed out my credit cards and re-mortgaged my house. It’s for love! I kept telling myself.

My mission is to stop love scams
My mission is to stop love scams

Besides, he was a millionaire, I’d seen it with my own eyes. I knew he’d be able to pay me back.

By the time the holiday came round, I’d sent over $140,000. Not wanting to worry my friends, I kept it to myself.

Landing in Hawaii, I logged online to a barrage of messages from James.

Baby, I’m so sorry. I’ve been detained in Sri Lanka, he wrote. My heart sank. He wasn’t here. I was in paradise but couldn’t have been more miserable. His messages became more desperate and his excuses more ludicrous. I need $40,000 so the officials will let me go… he pleaded. I’m in hospital and I’ve had a heart attack, can you pay my medical bills? I refused to send any more.

Staying in my hotel room, I only ventured out to the pool. By the fifth day, reality set in. He was never going to come. When I checked out, I was handed a bill for $1500 – he hadn’t paid at all.

Returning home, I was too embarrassed to even tell the girls. I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been. I was broke, desolate and teetering on the edge of homelessness.

When I tried confronting James, he went radio silent.

The shame hit and I fell into a depression. It took me two years to report the scam to the police – but by then the money was long gone.

Barely keeping my head above water with work, I had to sell the house.

It was another six years before I found the courage to try online dating again. Amazingly, I found Rick.

Me and my lovely new boyfriend Rick
Me and my lovely new boyfriend Rick

Trustworthy, sweet and kind – I made sure I met Rick in person right away.

My mission now is to stop romance scams from ever ruining another person’s life.

I’ve written a book, I love You, Send Money, and have a business, Love Assist Associates, where I help people date online safely.

If you meet a person online, take off your love goggles. Never send someone your money. Falling in love makes you vulnerable – but don’t let it make you blind.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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