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One day, scrolling through an online forum, she met Wayne Mays (not his real name) from the UK.Mays is a romance scam-baiter, which means he hangs out on dating sites, posing as a naive love-seeker, with the goal of unmasking — and exhausting — confidence men and women.Whatever you do, he adds, don’t ever pay them — that will only make a scammer more aggressive.As for Firefly, she now refuses to date anyone she doesn’t meet the old-fashioned way, face to face.“You pretend to be a victim and string them along, try to get them to waste as much of their time, money, and resources as you can,” he says.Mays would post any identifying details that scammers used online — from the email addresses they created to the back stories they recycled — to make them searchable. But for Mays, who co-hosts a scam-baiting podcast, “it’s also like improve comedy.” Most people aren’t turning to him for comic relief, though.
It’s not uncommon for victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars.But soon after, she learned that the son had had an accident at school and needed help paying hospital bills — urgently.“Of course I was sending money again to Western Union,” Firefly says.(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.
Scarcely had the boy recovered when he was struck by cholera, which required another expensive course of treatment.