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Five years ago, he and a small team of international volunteers, including Firefly, created Scam Survivors, a hotline and information resource center for victims of online scams — mostly, as it turns out, romance scams. “With the romance scam, it could be someone who's been married for a number of years.
The site tends to be a last resort for victims who are afraid to go to the police, or to tell anyone in their life what’s happened, because they’re ashamed. Their partner has either died or they've divorced and they've just started looking at online dating.
According to Mayes, they’ve handled more than 14,000 such cases in the past three years. Go deactivate all your social media accounts,” he says.
But she had revealed to her new online beau how much she wanted children, and soon his 14-year-old son was emailing her.“My friends advised me to go online and try to find someone to share my life with,” she says via Skype.Firefly spent a lot of time on her profile, thinking she needed to be entirely honest and open if she hoped to really connect with someone.(I know; red flag.) “He even called me, calling me ‘Mom’ a few times,” she says.Then, after about a week of heavy correspondence, Firefly’s boyfriend announced his son’s birthday was coming up, and suggested she send him a gift. It was pretty gratifying, she says; the son was ecstatic.
But soon after, she learned that the son had had an accident at school and needed help paying hospital bills — urgently.