Online Dating

“You can be anything or anybody you want to be 25 miles from home.”

“You can be anything or anybody you want to be 25 miles from home.”

Exposing a con: Let the “buyer beware.” Online dating is not for the faint of heart. The individual creating their online persona can portray virtually anything (or anybody) they want to be. For the sake of personal safety, it is up to the user of the online dating service to decide whether that information is factual or conjured in an attempt to mislead or scam. 

The very definition of the word “persona” is “a social role or a character played by an actor.” How do you know if that stranger you meet online is a quality person versus a scam artist presenting you with a series of elaborate lies? Let us first admit that self-disclosure leaves us feeling very vulnerable. Many of us who are divorced already have issues with broken trust. The decision I made to try online dating sites was met with much trepidation. I had been warned against online dating altogether by some older married friends. This was quickly disregarded because of the number of couples I know that have met and married from online matches (and who are very happy).

“Andrew” was a nice man new to online dating. He had recently been encouraged by his adult daughter Maria to try one of the top online Christian dating sites. Andrew was a lonely widow whose wife had died 2 years ago of lung cancer and we were the same age. Andrew’s late wife had been the love of his life and he had never been with another woman other than her.

His mother (a U.S. citizen) had gone on a mission trip to Germany and it was there that she met and married Andrew’s father. Andrew and his older sister had grown up in Germany where Andrew met his late wife. Together they had one daughter named Maria. It was in Germany that Andrew went to school and eventually became an electrical engineer. Andrew was nearing retirement when we met on the site and was looking forward to having some one to share his life with and travel with during retirement.

He had owned a home in Franklin, KY when he initially joined the dating site, but had just recently moved to Ypsilanti, MI where he was able to find more work. Andrew was an electrical contractor and was bidding on a huge contract for the building of a new motel. He had an upcoming interview in which he was competing with many other well-qualified electrical contractors for the same job. He asked me to pray for him that he would be awarded this contract. (Of course I promised I would.)

The Big Contract Award

The Big Contract Award

That evening, following the interview, I got a phone call from the very excited Andrew that he had been awarded the contract.   He had been awarded an international contract with one of the top international building contractors in the world. He would be in charge of a team of 20 electricians who would do all the electrical work for a huge new motel in Istanbul, Turkey. He would ship all his equipment to the location in advance and then board a plane taking him more than 5,000 miles away until the 30-day electrical wiring contract was completed.

He shared his flight itinerary so I would know where he was and be able to remember him in prayer on his journey.  At great expense, he had obtained a special cell phone plan that would enable him to text and call me while he was still in Turkey. He wanted me to know I could call him any time and he would be available to answer. If he was too busy at work when I called, he would simply text me and let me know he would return my call later. I had never met Andrew, but on the return flight at the completion of the contract, he would be making a stop over on his way back to Michigan and we would finally get to meet face to face.

Over the course of a month, I learned that Andrew attended Faithway Baptist Church in Ypsilanti. His favorites were country music, long walks, swimming, picnics, sitting in a swing in the evening and watching the moon rise. He loved to sing, dance, and play in the snow (especially big heavy snowflakes) followed by a mug of hot chocolate. He loved most of all being outdoors in nature. He enjoyed traveling but this would be his first trip ever to Turkey. Andrew’s daughter was a stay-at-home mom and her husband Tom worked for the CDC in Atlanta in special minority programs. He couldn’t wait for me to meet his family and to meet mine as well.

Andrew’s emails and texts were full of Biblical verses as well as all the sweet, endearing things any woman would love to hear from a man courting her from a distance. He wants to know how my day has gone, as well as other small details.  After all, to love and be loved is the greatest joy on Earth.

After the first week on the job, I got an email from Andrew telling me he that some of his equipment had broken and couldn’t be repaired. He managed (through his personal assistant) to locate replacements, but mistakenly misplaced his wallet and lost his card and necessary documents. The cost of the equipment would be $13,500, but he only had $10,000 available cash on hand.   He was not able to get cash released from his personal bank account because of a different IP address used when setting up the account. Even when he called the bank, they would not release the funds unless he was present in person because that was the agreement he had signed with them. Failure to continue on schedule with the building contract would wreck his professional career and he could actually lose the contract.

The con: Andrew needed me to borrow $3,500 for him so he could purchase the equipment and complete the contract. He was embarrassed to have to ask me to do this for him, but he intended to pay me back with 50% interest.  His request was followed by a string of run-on quotes concluding that “No matter how hard things seem, true love will aide us through it.”

Seriously? What kind of sucker did he think I was? Apparently a pretty big one!  No, “Andrew” (or whomever he really is) didn’t get a single cent from me. I immediately let him know I was not going to be scammed and then blocked future correspondence from him. However, I wonder how many more women he and other scum bags like him have conned.  This guy was not deterred even when he knew I work in law enforcement, take self defense classes and qualify every year on a variety of firearms.  He must have had gonads of steel or otherwise little concern I would ever be in close contact with him.

I later learned that “Andrew” had joined the online dating site where we met using someone else’s credit card. This resulted in the site administrator removing him and taking down his profile. I only found this out AFTER the attempted scam. A background check (which I paid for before the attempted scam) showed the name associated with his phone number and email address was “unavailable.” There was no Andrew Moore in either Franklin, KY or Ypsilanti, MI with a household contact or relative named Maria. There was no licensed electrical contractor in either city by that name.   There was no one with his son-in-law’s first name working for the CDC who had a wife named Maria.  It just didn’t add up.  That might explain why I was not all that surprised as I read his email request for money.  I wonder if he was surprised when I flatly refused that request and told him I wasn’t falling victim to his scam.  Poor fellow!  His “professional reputation” just got spoiled along with his scam.

This story is a refresher course in basic personal safety. I shouldn’t have felt the least bit guilty for checking out the information I was given. I sincerely wanted to be able to trust.  I wanted to believe “Andrew” was real. I wanted to believe he really cared for me. However, criminals are criminals and most of them have zero conscience. Conning people IS their job and their livelihood. I work with convicted felons on a daily basis. A quote I often hear which fits this scenario perfectly is this: “You can be anything or anybody you want to be 25 miles from home.”

I leave my readers with a few parting cautions:

1)       Never, ever, ever share such personal information as your mother’s maiden name! This is a huge personal security breach.

2)       When considering online dating, the same caution Jesus gave his 12 Disciples when He sent them out into the world applies to online dating:  Matthew 10:16: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Don’t hesitate to do a background check. It is really inexpensive and will be the wisest money you ever spent in personal security. If someone gives you information that doesn’t sound quite right, listen to your gut! It is giving you a “red alert” and you need to listen and protect yourself.

3)       Don’t waste your time on someone who “disappears” for a week or so at a time without so much as a text saying “thinking of you.”

4)       Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t court you openly or who changes plans with you abruptly and suddenly becomes unavailable.

5)       Don’t waste your time on bitter or angry people.

6)       Don’t waste your time on “legally separated” people. They are married and therefore NOT eligible to date in the first place.

7)       Make sure you genuinely match on major points; an 80% match is worth exploring.

8)       Don’t give up the search for that special person. Continue to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom in the dating experience. Despite this very negative experience, I still believe there are good people left in the world who are legitimate and single.

I’m not the least bit humiliated or embarrassed in the retelling of this true story. I AM, however, disappointed and angry because someone mistook my kindness for stupidity. Anybody can be the target of an attempted con, but the con doesn’t have to succeed. Despite all the phonies in the world, I am still genuinely a nice, caring and compassionate person.  I refuse to allow people like the “Andrews” of the world to cause me to withdraw and isolate myself socially. I have not shed a single tear, nor will I over the loss of a con man. I will, however, be even more shrewd and cautious as I go forward with online dating.

Note: It takes a lot of time to develop an elaborate and believable con. I have exposed one of them by writing this true story and that gives me a great degree of personal satisfaction. It would do no good to share photos of the con man himself, because their faces (& their cons) are constantly changing.  I’d love to hear your comments!

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

FOLLOW UP to an attempted SCAM:

Since I shared this story, I am amazed at the number of women who have come forward telling me they had almost identically the same scam happen to them. It must have been a very lucrative scam.

I thought you’d enjoy some follow up information. AFTER I sent “Andrew” an email telling him I wouldn’t be sending him money OR falling for his scam, I was surprised that I got a follow up email!   In that email he “blames himself for trusting in me” and is disappointed in “what you think about me.” He goes on to say “I don’t believe I deserved this from you” but “you always lack of trust.” He concludes with “May God be with you as always.”

I couldn’t wait to respond! So this is what I replied:

“Andrew”

There are so many discrepancies in your story. For example: you have a phone that is untraceable. There is no Andrew Moore in Franklin, KY OR Ypsilanti, MI. There is no professional license or record of you as a contractor. Christian Mingle took down your profile because of fraudulent activity—you didn’t even use your own credit card. There is no Tom with a family member by the name of Maria in the entire employment of the CDC. Your contract is completely bogus. So was your airline itinerary.

Just how naïve do you think I am anyway? I wanted to see just how far you would carry this con. No doubt it was worked well for you in the past.

Yes I was disappointed that there are men who make it their life’s work to prey on women. No I don’t trust you. Thank God I didn’t. I am EXACTLY who I say I am and I have worked hard for every dime I’ve ever earned. There was not one untruthful comment I made to you. One day, if you even have a conscience, you might wish you had a good woman by your side. Maybe not, but either way, I am exposing your con to the public for everybody who wants to read my story. I may even publish your phone number. In fact I may have computer forensics check your IP address to trace you.

Get a real job, whomever you really are and quit taking advantage of people who actually work and earn their money honestly!

Pam (my real name)

If I can save even one woman from being a victim through sharing this story, I will consider it a mission accomplished!

Disclaimer: There is no intent to harm any honest individuals whose names appear in the context of this story, nor any company mentioned within this story. The name “Andrew Moore” was the name given to me, but it is most likely a fictitious name.

The names and faces of a con artist are always changing. Recognize the scam instead!

The names and faces of a con artist are always changing. Recognize the scam instead!

Con artists are many and there faces are constantly changing. Therefore the photo included MAY be that of an honest person. Only the con himself knows the answer as lies come easily for them and they continue to be polished.

On a parting note, I doubt you are surprised to hear that “Andrew” never responded to my last message!   If you or anybody you know has experienced the scam or one like it, I would love to hear your comments!

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 


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A Love Story

Some can say "I care for you" but choke on the words "I love you"

Some can say “I care for you” but choke on the words “I love you”

Choosing to love is a decision to be made without expectation of reciprocation. This is a love story from my personal journey.

Most of us have spoken the words “I love you” many times over the course of our lifetime. There are many different types of love . Perhaps we would save ourselves confusion if we simply asked for clarification when we hear those words spoken to us! Love is far more complex than the romance and intimacy version “eros.” Love is ultimately a gift one person chooses to give another, whether or not it is rejected or reciprocated.

My dad was the first person who demonstrated the profound meaning of love through action. He was the 10th of 11 children, so his ability to show love had nothing to do with his ability to lavish me with material possessions. Through his story telling, giving of his time, gentle touch and comforting after a childhood injury, piggyback rides, defending and providing for my safety, he showed me a love story in small intangible ways. I always knew I held a special place in his heart. I also knew I could unconditionally trust my daddy with my whole heart. He was my childhood protector and “knight.” My dad exhibited a love story of the natural affection a parent has for their child.

As I grew older and became a young adult, I experienced a disconnect between those outside of my own family who said they loved me, but whose actions failed to demonstrate that love.  Suddenly the words “I love you” became twisted into deceptive, hollow words that had no value whatsoever. This deceptive counterfeit love became not only conditional but temporary and revocable.

Real love should never result in brokenness or dishonor of the other person. Love is not a consuming fire that leaves the one who is loved in ashes. Love should not cause pain or result in drama or destructive behavior. Rather love should build up the other up and result in joy.

Sadly, some have spent a lifetime in pursuit of love that seemed to evade them at every turn. What then, does it mean to love and why is it important to be able to extend love to others? I think God’s word demonstrates a love story toward each of us far better than I ever could.

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I mentioned earlier that love is an action word. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8   Do you know someone who would actually die for you regardless of whether your behavior was good or bad? I do. His name is Jesus.

John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in        love.” Isn’t the insecurity of fear really a lack of trust in the other person? Lack of trust comes from a place of brokenness.

If you truly know how to extend love to another person, then you are bearing fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

How is this a love story from my personal journey? “I have been persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:9

On my journey, I have been loved with empty words and actions. I have been “loved” as a consuming fire and left to gather up the broken pieces and sweep up the ashes of what was left. I have given of myself and been left a broken, wounded person afraid to trust and love again. Over a period of many years I finally forgave myself for my own mistakes and errors in judgment. I was angry with myself for choosing to accept crumbs rather than the feast God had prepared for me. I mourned the wasted years and broken trust. Where, I wondered, was this man by God’s own design who knew how to love and to demonstrate love to me? My Daddy had taught me about this kind of love, so surely it still existed!

Do you recall the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember the day Forrest decided to start running? He ran without a purpose or destination in mind. He amassed a huge following of other people willing to run aimlessly alongside him. Just as suddenly as Forrest decided to stop running, so did I. One day I decided I had run long enough and had lived as a broken person long enough. I finally decided to allow God to reassemble the broken pieces of my heart and restore me to wholeness. It had only taken me 26 years in the healing process!

What happens when love dies or when you realize you were given counterfeit love versus the real deal? Does the love you once freely offered then turn to hate or scorn for the one who rejected your love? The answer is: only if you allow it.   We can choose to allow God’s unconditional love to transform and restore us from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness.   First we have to release the crumbs and hurt we are holding onto with clinched fists, give it to God and allow Him to heal us.

I have now made the choice to love—even without reciprocation. When I say “I love you” I truly mean it. My friends hear these words from me and know I mean it through my actions. I have learned to love the person and the heart and soul of the person, rather than the gift wrapping on the exterior. If that person rejects the love I offer (whether it is the love for a friend or something deeper), then that is their choice not to accept the gift I offer them.

I am finally strong enough and confident enough to walk away from any relationship that is not fashioned by God’s design and still remain a whole person. No longer will I leave broken pieces of my heart and my life strewn behind. That is a love story for me, a gift from my Heavenly Daddy whose capacity for love far exceeds anything my Earthly Daddy could ever give. I choose to love, knowing that giving love to another doesn’t diminish me, but enriches my own life in the process.

What about you?  Have you ever known someone who simply could not say the words “I love you” and the best they could say is “I care for you”?    I’d love to hear your comments!

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com


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Dating for Nurses

A kiss may be considered casual, but there can be an exchange of body fluids and potential risk of exposure to communicable diseases.

A kiss may be considered casual, but there can be an exchange of body fluids and potential risk of exposure to communicable diseases.

The dating experience isn’t what is used to be. Dating is far different than when I was in high school in the late 1960’s.   Blood tests used to be required before a marriage license could be issued. In fact when I married in 1968 (at too young an age), I recall having to have those same obligatory blood tests. I never knew why, in fact I didn’t even know what those tests were supposed to reveal. I simply knew having the required blood tests were the law. Ironically, those laws were changed shortly before HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C were in the spotlight. Dating for Nurses was written because of concerns about transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. When you’re a Registered Nurse or health care professional, there is nothing casual about dating relationships, regardless of the reckless behaviors you see portrayed on such popular TV series as Grey’s Anatomy.

I am not proud to say that I’ve had two failed marriages. Both of those marriages ended because I was the one who filed for divorce. Those irreconcilable differences were because I have a “no share” policy. I simply will not stay in a relationship with someone who is sexually immoral. (Matthew 5:32) For more than 25 years after the last marriage ended, I did not date. I simply had no desire to date.   I had given up on marriage or having a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex. My focus was on the important tasks of educating my children and obtaining my baccalaureate degree in nursing.  I was totally committed to these tasks because there was no room for failure.

I have seen many newly-divorced men and women in our church singles department jump back into new dating relationships too soon, bringing their brokenness with them. They hadn’t taken time out to heal and to learn from their past.   Too often, newly divorced people don’t even know what they want (or don’t want) in a relationship. A friend once told me that if someone was 80% of what I was looking for, then the relationship was worth exploring further. This was wise counsel. If I happen to encounter, my Mr. Right, I’d first like to know WHY he is my Mr. Right instead of another Mr. Dead Wrong.

One day at church, I asked our singles minister if he thought I’d been single long enough now so as not to appear to be rushing into a new relationship if I decided to date again. My question was met with laughter (the reaction I expected). He assured me that I have certainly been single long enough. Taking time out is not a bad thing. I took 26 years.

Dating for seniors (& I don’t mean high school) is challenging. Dating for nurses is even tougher. In a nurse’s world, there is nothing casual about physical contact.   I have been a nurse for 26 years and counting. In that time frame, I have worked in most every practice setting of nursing, from public health to correctional (prison) nursing. I have provided direct care to patients with Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), C. difficile, Hepatitis A, B & C, venereal warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, scabies, herpes, shingles, tuberculosis (TB) and more.

My nursing specialty for the past 18 of those 26 years has been wound care. I have vigilantly used personal protective equipment of masks, gloves and gowns. I have had several unfortunate exposures from sharps and needle sticks, but thankfully I have not contracted a communicable disease.

Dating for nurses is a unique and scary experience.  A nurse goes from an environment where they take extreme care to prevent exposures and exchange of bodily fluids that would put them at risk. Sometimes nurses know when someone has a communicable disease. Sometimes we have already been in contact with them before we know. Sometimes we never know.

Recently I broke my 26-year time out and accepted a dinner date with a gentleman who seemed to be very nice. I use the word “seemed” because when you first meet someone, you receive only the information they want to share. In high school, most of us had very little (if any) prior dating history. Throughout several decades of life, a relationship history develops and the exposure risk goes up exponentially.

“Bill” was very thoughtful; he even brought a single red rose to our first date. That was a first for me. Holding hands was awkward. I don’t recall anybody ever walking beside me and holding my hand before. I recall thinking it would be nice to get used to this. I was aware of my own need for personal space. This experience is brand new in this chapter of my life. We had a nice dinner together and after several hours of great conversation (& laughter), it was getting late and time to say good night.   I had told him beforehand that I needed to take things s-l-o-w. Why rush after 26 years of time out?   The kiss on the cheek was stolen and I felt my face blush. I suddenly realized that I really knew nothing about this man. Before you think “oh how sweet,” let me remind you this article is about dating for nurses. There is nothing casual about a kiss. It is no longer the 60’s and we are no longer children.   Not even a background check would reveal the kind of history a nurse would be concerned with knowing. It’s that whole exchange of bodily fluids thing that makes me cringe now. When I was 16, I never gave a thought to exchange of bodily fluids with a single kiss.

A thought-provoking simple little kiss on the cheek

A thought-provoking simple little kiss on the cheek

There was not a second date. That was my decision because of several phone conversations we had later in the week. I discovered there were major “issues” with estrangement from family and major differences in some really important personal values.   Sometimes it is easier to see the reality before the vision gets clouded with romance. Perhaps that’s an advantage to being more mature. Perhaps it’s a disadvantage. I just know that I made a promise to myself that the husband I would choose if I married again would be a man of strong faith and a spiritual leader. He would be a man committed to family and serving the Lord. “Bill” was neither.  That didn’t make him a bad person, that just meant he wasn’t my “Mr. Right.”

For those of you who have dated after you became health care professionals, what went through your mind, even with a kiss? How much did you know about that person you had intimate contact with? Did you use personal protective equipment? We are certainly trained to protect ourselves at work, why not elsewhere?   Just because there is no risk of pregnancy doesn’t mean there isn’t risk of communicable disease. It’s something to think about and prepare for in advance. There’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned dating and abstinence (no sex until marriage). That’s an excellent example of taking it s-l-o-w and getting to know your partner’s history before you commit your life (& perhaps your health) to the relationship.

I’d love to hear your comments!

Pam Baker, RN

PamBakerRN.com

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 5:32
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32 oBut I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and pwhoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


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