We all know internet romances are difficult, not only because they’re long distance relationships that rely on trust a lot more than regular relationships, but because sometimes, there are freakier elements included in the menu. Lying, cheating, deceiving, and even scamming are pretty easy thanks to the anonymity of the Internet. But when Maria Grette found out she had been scammed by a 24-year-old Nigerian man, who had been posing as a 58-year-old Danish man, she flew to Nigeria to meet the man who had been catfishing her all along.The relationship between the two began right after she was out with friends and created a profile on an online dating site.
“I received messages telling me that people had contacted me, but I never looked at them,” said Maria. She impulsively checked her messaged and stumbled upon one that caught her eye. It belonged to a civil engineer who was a Dane, raised in South Carolina. He also said to be working in England. The widower had a son who attended a Manchester University… or so he claimed.
Love blossomed, and she was caught up. Ms Grette was in love, but confused by the man’s accent which was baffling. Being quite worldly herself, couldn’t place his accent. He avoided her questions, and instead showered her with plans and visions of the future. He wanted to retire to Sweden, settle down. She on the other hand, was completely head over heels with his sweet, old-fashioned personality. After 3 months of online dating, he agreed to meet her. Suddenly, his son got “mugged” right after leaving, and was stuck at the hospital, with no money and bills to pay. He claimed that the hospital was asking for a little over $1000 dollars to continue with treatment.
She stopped sending him money and realized she was being scammed. Three weeks after she stopped responding, the real man behind the scam called to confess. A 24-year-old Nigerian “419” scammer had finished university two years before this ordeal started, but couldn’t find a job. Ms Grette said, “He said he had never met anyone like me before, that he had been fighting his feelings for me for a long time. He said his scamming mates had warned him about falling in love with a ‘client’, that he had ignored them because he trusted me and did not want to lose contact with me.”
Maria started feeling attracted to the real person behind the character. A different person, with different circumstances. In October 2009, Maria traveled to Africa and met the man, his friends, (many of whom were scammers) and enjoyed a nice two weeks in Nigeria. Now she wants to improve the lives of the people in Uganda. She arranged many artists to travel to Europe to exhibit their art, as a way to expose their work. Ms Grette even supported her Nigerian friend while he completed his degree, as he studied in America. He got a job in the oil sector. They still communicate daily, and care deeply for one another. “He has asked me so many times to forgive him and I told him that the most important thing is to forgive himself.”