I had broken out of a difficult relationship and I was looking for distraction. My friends advised me about the Tinder dating app. I was skeptical, but I thought: why not? At one point I had a match with someone who called himself Sam Noel. Sam came from Miami and lived in Bern, as he told me. He worked as an engineer, we talked in English. I lived in the US, I have faith in the language and I love the open nature of the Americans.
Sam told about his mother, who came from Ticino and became ill, he asked about my children. He was 49 years old like me, he wrote, what amazed me, he looked younger and very attractive on the photo 's. He posed on a boat in a photograph. He loved the sea, just like me. When we talked on the phone, I was surprised by his voice: somehow it did not fit with his looks. But that happens. And I liked Sam. We decided to meet.
He sent me a fragment from his bank in Miami, in which he recognized a fortune of more than a million dollars.
Then Sam had to travel to Istanbul for a short time, and we postponed our appointment. He had applied for a large building project and was allowed to present his concept in a competition. I had googled him and found his name on the website of an international engineering company. Also in Miami there were some mentions in his name. The next day there was a desperate message: he had taken a taxi to his hotel at the airport and when he wanted to pay, he remarked: his wallet had disappeared. I was concerned. He was floating around and at one point he said he felt very uncomfortable, but his friends in the US would abandon him if I could help him.
Images: Tinder vs. LinkedIn
After his return we would finally meet and then he would give me back the money, he would give me even more. He sent me a bank statement from his bank in Miami, with a capital of more than a million dollars. We were calling, Sam was wearing a suit and sitting between the piles of files in his hotel room. The connection was bad, the picture a little blurry, but I could see it clearly.
Fraud to Istanbul
I think it is important to help others, so I agreed. When I wanted to send the money to a kiosk with Money Gram, the seller asked: "Do you know the recipient personally? There is a lot of fraud in Istanbul." Yes, I said that is my friend. I sent him 1500 francs – I could not get up more than once. At home I met my neighbor and told her the story. "You have to help other people when they come into such a situation," she said. "I give you 1500 francs, and if you can, you can pay me back."
And I realized: Sam was the treacherous invention of a very professional gang of criminals.
Sam enthusiastically thanks for the 3,000 francs. The next day I went to drink coffee with an old friend. She listened to me in silence. Eventually she said: "Promise me one thing: you do not send him money anymore." In the evening she sent me an e-mail with a link to an article: The Nigerian weapons mafia uses false Tinder accounts to get money from women in Switzerland there. I was cold, I was shaking everywhere. And I realized: Sam was the treacherous invention of a very professional gang of criminals.
The photo's, the bank statements, the Viber conversations – all fake. I went to the police where I was told that I was not the only one who fell for something like that. Unfortunately, the Swiss police have no control in such cases. I have removed the contact on Viber about which we had communicated. The worst thing is not that the money is gone, the worst is – and I think that's really traumatic – that I was so misled. It takes time to go back to your own instinct.
This article first appeared on November 12, 2017.
Created: 25.08.2018, 20:34 clock