By Leo Haggerty


 A few years ago, one of my good friends in the media got into a “situation” that was extremely embarrassing.  He made connections online with a “woman” who, after getting him to wire her a lot of money, dropped the big bomb.  If he sent her $24,000 to settle her accounts in this foreign country, she would fly to the United States and marry him as well as pay him back.

My friend, who is an older gentleman and I have known for decades, was all set to wire the money.  Thankfully, he told a few of us and we convinced him that this was a scam.  It was most probably some guy posing as a beautiful young woman to steal his money.

It was not an easy sell.  In fact, one of our friends had to walk him into his bank and have him put a hold on his account until he came to his senses.

Then it happened to another friend.  He made the mistake of sending very provocative pictures of himself to a young lady whom he thought was in love with him.  Once she got those photos, she immediately told him that, if he doesn’t send her a major amount of cash, she would post them on the internet.  Sadly, my friend paid the ransom and, luckily, those photos haven’t surfaced but no telling if that will change in the future.

It was sad to see how my friends got sucked into this.  I thought to myself that someone needs to expose this.  What’s the allure to men, and a majority of them are older, that causes good people to lose their way?

Well, my Dad told me when I was about to start my teaching and coaching career 45 years ago, this very simple sentence.  He said “Remember, don’t ask someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.”

So, being a journalist for the last 20 years, I took those words to heart.  I would do some “undercover” investigative reporting.  I would do the research so I could relate to other men, chapter and verse, what are the danger signs on social media.

This began a little over two years ago.  For over a year, I was not able to find out anything and I went to some very strange online sites doing my research.  When these “women” would ask for money, I would say that I don’t have any and they would disappear.

That change about 6 months ago.  I will refer to the individual as “her” and I was able to find out how this happens.

Honestly, I almost blew it.  I thought I was sending a message to “her” and I mistakenly sent it to someone else.  A major error to say the least.

Well, here’s what I found out.  All of these situations are ones that you should run away from as quickly as you can.

The first Red Flag is if a beautiful woman sends you a friend request and the words are “Hello handsome” or “Hi sweetheart” or “Would you like to see my photos” that should raise your suspicion.  She doesn’t know you from Adam.  Strike one.   If it includes a very revealing picture of the young lady, or even nude photos, you’ve been marked so do NOT answer.  Strike two.  If it’s from a location outside the United States, Strike three and GET OUT NOW.

I have to credit the major social media platforms.  They are starting to filter this type of traffic.  When they see a woman ask you “Are you single” or “Are you happily married” or “Age is just a number” or “Do you sleep alone”, they will ask you if you know this person.  Because of this, look for the woman to ask you to move to another social media site that is unfiltered.  That’s the second Red Flag because now they can say anything or send you anything.  Don’t go there.

This is the next phase.  The woman will come up with everything imaginable to get you to feel sorry for her.  She has lost a husband, lost a child, lost a relative, have a serious illness, lost her house or lost her job.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg.  They will go to any extremes to get you to feel sorry for them even though there’s an extremely good probability that they are all fabrications.  That’s the third Red Flag so get out now while you can.

This is the fourth Red Flag.  By now, the woman sees that you are still communicating with her and she’s moving in for the score.  She will send you photos that will be more revealing and will ask do you like them.  Time to get out because, if you respond, you are ripe for the picking.

Now she thinks she has you and she’s probably right.  She will ask if you would like to do phone sex or sexting.  She will start with more revealing pictures and start “talking dirty” to you.  She will ask you to respond in kind.  The verbiage will get “hotter and heavier” and more pornographic.  Then she will send you naked pictures of herself in every sexually deviant position imaginable.  There’s your fifth Red Flag.  You need to get out because your time is running out.

That’s takes us to the sixth Red Flag and it’s huge because it’s the last.  Why?  That’s because you are at the point of no return.  She will ask you to send her a naked picture of yourself.  You need to get out now because if she has that you are in deep trouble.  Under no circumstances send a full body naked shot of yourself because she can photoshop you anywhere.  Get out now because, if you don’t, you’re out of time.

Here’s where she closes the trap.  She sends you an ultimatum.  Either you send her money or she will post the following photos and conversation up on the Internet for everyone to see.  She will even send you the pictures that will be put us and who they will be directed.  Now, you have to make a decision.  How much money are you willing to spend to keep some very embarrassing photos as well as dirty talk away from your family and friends and employer and co-workers?

I will freely admit that I “crossed the line” myself.  I felt that was the only way to find out for sure if this was a scam or a woman truly in need of financial help.

Well, I found out.  We are now in the “negotiating” process as to how much money I’m willing to pay to keep “her” from posting some embarrassing photos and conversations.

Now, I want to take the time to apologize to my family and friends.  “Her” can post some photos and some conversations that are not flattering to say the least.  I needed to keep the “bait on the hook” so I could see how the blackmail worked.

After all of this, I must say that I have a new appreciation of any “undercover” operative.  It’s extremely difficult to stay “in character” when the things you are doing are totally disgusting or life threatening.  Don’t know if I could have gone that far.

Also, if people do not read the above article, this could cost me dearly.   I am not the kind of person that will be portrayed.  I had to get “down and dirty” to find out just what causes good men to become completely brainwashed.

Gentlemen, I hope you spent the time to read this.  If this helps one man save tens of thousands of dollars on what he thinks is a “true love” affair, then it was worth it.