In my post last week, I referred to an article on Salon.com called, Facebook status: In a scam relationship. The article starts with an anecdote about a guy who met a woman on Myspace. She supposedly lived in Ghana and proclaimed her love, then told him a hard luck story. He sent her a total of $14,000, even though they never met. The person did not exist. The guy was scammed.
After relating the anecdote, the article stated, “He’s a victim of what’s called ”˜love fraud.’”
I had two reactions to that sentence. The first was, “Wow—”˜love fraud’ has entered the lexicon.” The second was, “This writer doesn’t get it—love fraud is not limited to cyber scams.”
Then, a few days ago, I received an inquiry from a television talk show producer who is considering doing an episode about “love fraud.” He Googled, “love fraud,” and of course, immediately landed on this website and blog. He too, however, seemed to think that love fraud was limited to fake romances conducted over the Internet, which turn out to be money scams.
It’s time to set the record straight.
When I learned that my ex-husband, James Montgomery, was a sociopath, and that millions of sociopaths were out in the world putting peoples’ lives through a meat grinder, as had happened to me, I realized that the public needed to be educated. Although I was in the midst of my divorce and couldn’t immediately embark on an education program, I decided that I would eventually build a website.
So 12 years ago, on August 7, 1999, I reserved the domain name, “Lovefraud.com.” If you want proof, check the Who Is information.
Lovefraud.com launched on July 20, 2005. Our logo is trademarked. “Love fraud” is my term. Therefore, I will define it:
Love fraud is the intentional exploitation of an individual through manipulating emotions and trust in a personal relationship. The exploitative relationship is frequently romantic, but can also be between family members, friends and associates. The relationship can take place in real life, or exist only through communications media. The people who engage in love fraud are sociopaths.
For years, I’ve heard from people who want to tell me about their “love frauds.” In fact, I have collected more than 2,500 cases of people who tangled with sociopaths. Yes, I’ve heard about online scams. But I’ve also heard about betrayal by high school sweethearts, long-term spouses, family members, first dates, co-workers and business partners. This type of exploitation is widespread. In fact, it is epidemic.
So to all you bloggers and journalists who are suddenly interested in love fraud—this is not just an online money scam. Love fraud occurs any time a disordered individual uses a personal relationship of trust for the sole purpose of exploitation. Unfortunately, it happens much more frequently than most of us realize.