I encountered my first scammer, John, when he commented on one of my Facebook posts, saying something like, "I don't want to send you a friend request because you don't know me, and it would be rude. So can you send me one."
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Tuesday, 5 January 2021
In a Victims Own words.. JOHN O'SHAUGHNESSY
So, I figured he must have liked my post, and I thought he sounded very polite, so I sent the request and of course, he accepted.
He said he was an Air Force general, Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy. (I was impressed.) He went by his middle name, John.
In our first conversation he asked me if I was married, and I hadn't been. He said he had been married and his wife was a "witch". I thought that was pretty awful for an officer to talk that way about his ex.
He said he was in Syria on a "classified" mission commanding a battalion of soldiers. He said he liked to get the news of home from someone who was there. I looked at his FB profile, but didn't remember much of it. He wasn't especially good-looking, just a regular guy.
I saved the two pictures of him. I compulsively save lots of photos from the internet, so that was usual for me. We chatted on FB Messenger for a couple of days but he kept pushing me to go to Google Hangouts.
He deleted his Facebook account, and started emailing me. This was all happening on FB Messaging. I finally got on Hangouts after 2 or 3 days. I was kind of busy and Syria is 7 hours earlier than me. Due to this timing and my schedule, we rarely chatted, but mostly exchanged posts back and forth. I wanted to check him out, so I went to Wikipedia, and he was there, so he did exist.
The photo in Wikipedia was more flattering, and he was very good-looking. I saved it. He was ten years younger than me, not a bad range. I found out he grew up about 40 miles from where I grew up in Town X.
He often sent me posts in the morning with stuff like, Get up and welcome the day... blah, blah , blah. I noticed things that didn't seem right. His grammar and spelling were awful, and seemed unlikely for a General, but I rationalized, maybe he has a good secretary.
He often said, "okay" at the end of a post, and would always say "stay safe". At times, it seemed like different people were writing the posts because of the different ability levels in writing in English. I mentioned in a post that I had grown up in Town X, and he was not the slightest bit interested. He didn't say, oh I lived near there, which is what I expected. I think he was chatting with someone else at the time, because his responses @ it were hasty and kind of irrelevant.
After we had been communicating for 10 days, my brother was admitted to the hospital up North. My family discouraged me from traveling because of Covid as I am in a high risk group. (My brother was not ill with Covid.)
From Maryland I handled a lot of phone calls and was talking with my brother 2 of my sisters a LOT. No time at all for John.
Three weeks later I went back to Hangouts. There were 3 very 'warm' good morning posts from him, I posted a couple of times. When he didn't reply I sent him a couple of emails. I wrote a long awkward post about how sick my brother was.
He never replied. At that point I actually became distraught. For many reasons, I was never comfortable dating. I hadn't been asked out by a man for about 23 years, so he blew my isolation right into the ozone. I couldn't let go, and I started looking stuff up about him on the internet, looking at photographs, reading things, watching videos of news appearances. His wife appeared in a few of the pictures, her name was Donna. The real guy was actually pretty important. He was in charge of what's called the Northern Command in the U.S. He was the person identified to run the country if the government was overrun by Covid. I was even more impressed, and even more desolate that he hadn't been answering my posts.
I actually cried. I listened to all the songs that make me cry. I've always believed that you need to do a certain amount of crying before you get over something, so I get myself to cry to get it over with. I had was suddenly smitten, even in his absence. But after a couple of weeks, I started thinking about his last three posts, and I thought they were "too warm" and inappropriate. And then I thought about his bad English, and in a flash I thought, it's not really him.
Someone is impersonating him. And I thought through more and more, and went back and looked for clues. Whoever they were, they had kept very carefully to the time schedule for 7 hours earlier. I came to the conclusion that it was probably a couple of his soldiers in his batallion, screwing around in their downtime.
It made sense to me that they were in the same time zone. I knew vaguely about scamming, but had never heard of romance scamming. So I figured I'd been the butt of a soldier's joke, and started to be able to separate myself from the idea of 'John'. I deleted him from Hangouts. I began to think that that maybe my love life wasn't be over. I changed my status in my FB profile from blank to single. Within a week I was talking to three guys. About two months after we had stopped communicating, I was on Hangouts with one of my new friends. Lo and behold, 'John' shows up on Hangouts.
That night I was actually writing a letter to the real general to tell him he was being impersonated on the internet. (Not knowing that he was already very aware of it.). He said hi, but then went away for a few minutes. When he came back he wrote that there had been shooting going on there, and they had to secure their 'parameters'. Well, anyone who's watched military movies or TV shows knows that they protect their 'perimeter', the boundary of a particular area.
I posted "we have to talk". When he came back I said, "What is your real name?" I also wrote, "You'll be surpised to hear that I have missed you" (and I did). He didn't answer, so I started saying different things like, "I guess you're not going to answer my question", "I was going to do something that would get you in trouble" (if he were a soldier), etc. But he wouldn't answer. Finally, he sent me an email, and he was pretty angry.
He said I was being disespectful, and he didn't force relationships on anyone. I said that I had learned that Gen. O'Shaughnessy was retired so how could he be in Syria. I said I thought I was being punked. I asked if we could talk it through.
He came back saying he had been recalled for an assignment that required his expertise. I said, so you were chatting with me because your wife was busy? And you said you didn't know where Town X was.
Can you understand why I was confused? He said, my wife is none of your business (and he was right!). I love her and we're getting back together. Then he wrote in caps, GOODBYE!!! and that was the last thing I heard from him. This last exchange had such specific details that I thought it really was him.
A couple hours later I wrote a very apologetic email, but I didn't mention that I thought he was being impersonated. I felt too stupid and embarassed. In the subject line I put, "Hope you will give me a chance and read this". I wanted a chance to explain what had been going through my mind. I
sent a couple more desperate emails, putting message in the subject line, to try and get his attention. Never Heard from him again but it took me a while to get some distance.
Thankfully, I was never asked for money or gift cards, but meeting 'him' did cause a lot of upheaval for me emotionally, and of course because of Issues I had to deal with long before these events. Ironically some good actually came from the experience. When I'd been asked about my interests, I didn't have much to say, and it motivated me to get back to a couple of hobbies I had let go of.