By Jeremy Wagstaff
SINGAPORE -- Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between love and a scam.
For Australian sheep farmer Des Gregor, it wasn't until he was safe inside the Canadian Embassy in Mali that it dawned on him there might be a connection between the African men who had been holding him at knifepoint demanding $100,000 and Natacha, the Liberian refugee he'd fallen in love with over the Internet.
Until then, he says, he'd believed that somehow the pastor, Natacha and her brother he'd been corresponding with via an online dating Web site were real, and his ordeal at the hands of men who had kidnapped him on his arrival from Adelaide was just a detour on the road to true love.
We ran a Dish back on April 20th about some poor Englishman being duped out of £16,000 to get a Russian broad into the UK. Bad deal. The world is jaded and harsh enough without someone exploiting the handful of romantics left. We’re not advocating the occupation of grifter but at least they’re usually exposing someone else’s greed. We remember a time, back in the day, when the word ‘scam’, in relation to romance, meant going on ostensibly as friends but holding out hope for benefits. And possibly cutting a hole in the bottom of the popcorn bucket.
Also, he refers to this phenomenon as part of ‘so-called Nigerian advance-fee fraud.’ The scam is called The Spanish Prisoner and it’s been around for centuries. Sorry, we just saw the movie The Spanish Prisoner and are feeling pretty hip to the con game.