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When love becomes a scam: A woman’s journey through heartbreak and healing

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Sammie, a 41-year-old European lady, found herself in a vulnerable state after going through a divorce. It was during this time that she met a man named Rob, who claimed to be a 45-year-old civil engineer.

Rob reached out to her on Instagram, and as they got to know each other, they grew closer.

However, things took a turn when Rob told Sammie that his father was sick and needed money for an operation.

He claimed that his bank accounts had been frozen and that he needed her help. Sammie, wanting to help the man she had grown to care for, sent him several thousand pounds and even bought Bitcoin for him, effectively laundering the cash he sent her.

It wasn’t until later that Sammie discovered that the pictures Rob had been using were all stolen and that his identity was a fabrication. Despite this revelation, Sammie still found herself in love with the man she had grown close to, even though he was a Nigerian internet fraudster.

The question remains whether love truly is blind in this case, as Sammie’s feelings for Rob seem to have persisted even after discovering his true status.

She eventually discovered that ‘Rob’ was a 20-year-old scammer from Nigeria. And, once she knew, she still wanted to talk to this young man who had captured her heart.

He told her his real name was Smith, and they both cried over the phone, with Sammie describing him as ‘remorseful.’ He set up a new account using his own photograph and they carried on messaging.

He told her he had used the money she had given him to get out of Nigeria and that he was now living in Cyprus, where he wanted to start college. He said he had fallen for her and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her.

Smith told her that, aside from the lies about the circumstances, when he talked to her as Rob, it was how he always felt as himself.

She said, “It was like having him back.”

After a few months, he started to ask her for money again. Sammie was angry and the relationship cooled, but a couple of weeks later he messaged her through Snapchat with a love heart — and she messaged straight back.

He didn’t open the message and hasn’t been in touch with her since.

I asked her, “If he messaged you today would you forgive him?’ She looked down, gave a small smile and said, ‘I dunno.’ Then she started crying and it was horrible to see.

Even when she knew who he was and what he did, she was still prepared to entertain the fact it was a relationship.

It’s hard to know if Smith was part of an organised gang of scammers, but it seems likely.

While South East Asia is responsible for the most romance scams, Nigeria is the second most common place of origin.

In Nigeria, I’ve heard anecdotally that the scammers term the practice ‘hunting for an old white,’ while in South East Asia, they’re known as ‘pig-butchering scams’ because the fraudsters think of it like fattening up an animal before you slaughter it.

Pig-butchering scams are a cross between romance fraud and crypto currency fraud and are often highly technologically advanced.

The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the scripts and tricks fraudsters use to reel in victims.

Many scammers seem to use a name comprised of two first names — for example, Mark Patrick, John William, Stephen Thomas — perhaps because they aren’t familiar with Western surnames.

Scammers often use a set of common stories, such as being a widower who lost their spouse to illness or a car accident, having a cheating ex-partner, having a child in boarding school, having a sick family member, being very religious, or working in a profession like the military, medicine, or oil rigs.

As soon as you reply, he is likely to ask, ‘Are you married with kids?’ and he will express romantic feelings, even love, extremely quickly.

You’ll be the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, the sort of woman he could really have a special connection with and so on.

Next he’ll want to get you off the platform he contacted you on and onto a messaging app such as WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Skype or Google Chat as soon as possible.

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True Life Story

From Okada rider to first-class graduate: Hezekiah’s inspiring journey

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Toyinbo Hezekiah’s story is one of determination and resilience. Toyinbo is 30 years old, he hails from Igude village in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Despite the weight of financial burden and the grind of unconventional work, Toyinbo clings steadfastly to a singular dream: the pursuit of higher education. With each brick laid and every mile traversed on his motorcycle, Toyinbo’s determination burns brighter, illuminating the path towards his ultimate goal – to grasp the coveted title of graduate.

When he started his degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, he didn’t aim for top grades. His main goal was to earn his degree.

However, his journey took an unexpected turn when he achieved a GPA of 5.0 in his third year. This success opened his eyes to the possibility of graduating with first-class honors.

Throughout his academic journey, Toyinbo’s passion for learning never wavered. From excelling in primary school to navigating challenges in secondary school, he remained focused on his goals. Despite growing up in a farming-focused village where education wasn’t emphasised, Toyinbo’s determination to succeed propelled him forward.

During his university years, Toyinbo faced numerous challenges, including financial hardships and balancing work with studies. While his classmates relied on support from family and friends, Toyinbo had to borrow money to pay for his exams and immediately start working to repay his debts.

Despite these obstacles, Toyinbo’s dedication paid off. He graduated as the top student in his department with a first-class honours degree, achieving a remarkable GPA of 4.55.

However, the recognition he received during convocation was minimal, leaving him feeling unsatisfied.

Reflecting on his journey, Toyinbo remains optimistic about the future. He has already immersed himself in farm work, rearing various breeds of chickens and providing free consultation to aspiring farmers.

His ultimate goal is to further his education and become a professor specializing in animal science and research.

When asked about his advice for underprivileged individuals aspiring to continue their studies, Toyinbo emphasised taking initiative and starting with what they have. He believes that with determination and trustworthiness, anyone can change their story, just as he did.

Toyinbo’s story is didactical, as it emphasises the need for perseverance and hard work, even the most unlikely dreams can become a reality.

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True Life Story

From Nigeria to Australia: A journey of resilience and reinvention

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Leaving Nigeria behind was a monumental decision, one that altered the course of my life forever. Even with a comfortable salary and years under my belt, I took the leap, knowing that the grass might just be greener elsewhere.

The initial months in Australia were anything but easy. Despite my efforts to secure an accounting job, rejection letters flooded my inbox, highlighting my lack of Australian experience and certifications. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially for someone accustomed to professional success.

Yet, amid the turmoil, my wife emerged as my unwavering rock, shouldering our financial burdens single-handedly. As an Igbo man, the notion of relying on my wife for sustenance struck at the core of my identity, nearly plunging me into despair.

Determined not to succumb to defeat, I pivoted my approach. Embracing versatility, I enrolled in a forklift training program, swiftly obtaining my license. But I didn’t stop there. Armed with a newfound resolve, I pursued certifications in disability support work, expanding my skill set exponentially.

Transitioning to warehouse employment was a pragmatic move, albeit temporary. While it didn’t fulfill my ultimate career aspirations, it provided stability in uncertain times. In Australia, opportunities abound for individuals of all ages, fostering a culture of inclusivity and productivity.

However, amidst the allure of order and security, nostalgia for Nigeria lingered. The opulent displays of authority, once commonplace, were replaced by a more egalitarian ethos. Here, respect for the law reigned supreme, contrasting sharply with the pervasive corruption back home.

Health and well-being underwent a remarkable transformation as well. Escaping the clutches of recurrent malaria, I marveled at the absence of illness in my new environment. Even my children thrived academically, flourishing in a system that prioritised excellence.

In hindsight, the decision to migrate was unequivocally the right one. Despite the trials and tribulations, the dividends reaped in terms of quality of life and financial stability outweighed any hardships endured.

As I reflect on my journey, I’m acutely aware of the toll migration can exact on familial bonds. The specter of divorce looms ominously, a testament to the complex interplay of cultural adaptation and interpersonal dynamics.

My story serves as a testament to the transformative power of resilience and reinvention. For those contemplating a similar path, heed this advice: seize the opportunity for a better life, but tread carefully, for the road ahead is fraught with challenges and unforeseen consequences.

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True Life Story

Finding hope in despair: Nancy’s story of perseverance and redemption

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In the wake of her father’s untimely demise when she was just nine years old, Nancy’s life took a challenging turn.

Her mother, facing financial hardships, struggled to pay for Nancy’s education, eventually leading her to enroll in a public school in Alimosho Local Government.

Despite the adversity, Nancy remained diligent, excelling in her studies throughout her academic journey.

Her determination and hard work paid off as she secured admission to the prestigious University of Ilorin to pursue a degree in Medicine & Surgery.

However, the financial burden remained a constant obstacle, with her single mother barely able to make ends meet. Undeterred, Nancy took matters into her own hands, juggling multiple jobs and even resorting to borrowing loans to fund her education.

Tragedy struck again during Nancy’s final year at medical school with the passing of her beloved mother, leaving her devastated.

Despite the emotional turmoil, Nancy persevered, determined to complete her education. It was during this challenging time that she crossed paths with Daniel, who offered to support her financially.

Initially grateful for Daniel’s assistance, Nancy soon found herself trapped in a toxic relationship. Daniel’s controlling behavior escalated, and Nancy found herself coerced into unwanted physical intimacy.

Despite the turmoil, Nancy completed her studies and returned to Lagos to start afresh.

Her resilience and determination caught the attention of Mr. Nnamdi, who saw beyond her past hardships and recognised her potential.

Initially hesitant to trust again, Nancy eventually opened her heart to Mr. Nnamdi, and their relationship blossomed into marriage.

Today, Nancy’s story serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity.

From humble beginnings to owning her businesses and three cars, Nancy’s journey is a true inspiration, proving that with grit and determination, one can overcome even the greatest of challenges.

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