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The Sassy Sandpiper: April Love? Lonely Hearts, Beware!

Computer Dating | Love Scam | Scam

The Sassy Sandpiper offers a cautionary tale of love gone wrong.

By M.R. WILSON, Columnist, TB Reporter

Spring has sprung. Love is everywhere. The birds and the bees (and the flowers and the trees and the moon up above) can make us lose our good sense. The unattached shed heavy jackets and sweaters, flash a smile and a little skin. They’re on the hunt.

These excursions might end with a happy couple sipping wine at sunset, then riding off to celebrate a new dawn and new life together.

Sometimes couples connect on social media. You know how it goes: a request comes from a stranger who doesn’t look like a serial killer; Said Unattached Person decides what the heck, and accepts. Messages float into inboxes, phone numbers are exchanged, yada yada yada. Next thing you know they’re engaged and blissful and babbling and gooey-eyed. And they ride happily off into the sunset, too.

Or, increasingly, it can go another way.

I’m going to tell you a cautionary tale. The main character is someone I know well, someone I communicate with daily. I’ll change a few details for obvious reasons, but what happened to her is real. I certainly don’t want it to happen to you.

“Penny” is a 60-something widow who lives in the Southwest. Her grown children and one grandchild live in different states. She was weary of loneliness and decided to register with a well-known online dating service. Soon thereafter she encountered “Darrin,” who swept her off her cyber-feet.

He was an art and antiques dealer from Santa Fe. He fell in love with her, just in time to send extravagant Valentine’s Day gifts. He happened to be stranded in the Ukraine on a buying trip. A few credit issues to clear up and he’d be back in the USA to visit immediately.

“Immediately” turned into weeks which turned into months as his bad luck story unfolded through an “interpreter” who sent an alarming text that Darrin was in the hospital. No explanation for a suspenseful week until it was revealed that he suffered atrial fibrillation. (Coincidentally, Penny also has this condition.) He got better but needed money for his medical bills. (Of course, he did.) Next, he was unable to leave the Ukraine because he didn’t have funds to pay the duty on all the treasures he was bringing “home.”

By now Penny is suspicious and has a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach because she has, indeed, “helped” Darrin financially — to the tune of $32,000. Her son and daughter-in-law advised her to contact the local sheriff and other investigative agencies. They told her about scammers sitting at several computer screens, romancing their victims and getting rich off their grief.  It’s doubtful Penny will ever know exactly what happened, muchless recover her savings.

Darrin’s e-mail messages beg to know why Penny refuses to reply, especially since he’s said how sorry he is and will pay her back with interest.

He’s sorry, all right. And Penny is no longer interested.

Broken Heart | Loneliness | Depression

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Love | Broken Heart | Computer Dating | Tampabay News

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