Dearest Rachel –
I teased about this the other day, because it was happening almost at the same time I was writing about dealing with another scammer on the dating app. But this one was longer in coming around. In fact, I was wondering if it would even actually happen.
But I think I knew it would, even as the situation unfolded. And yet, the fact that the shoe has finally dropped does not make it any easier to take.
I’ve written to you about Naruko, and the fact that she has been (allegedly) stationed in Cambodia (actually, at the time, I may have said ‘Indochina’). I also mentioned to you that at some point a couple of weeks ago, she informed me that some of her valuables had gone missing – either lost or stolen, she wasn’t clear, but in any event, she didn’t have them – and without money or passport, she wasn’t able to return home. I was, at that moment, fully expecting her to ask me to send some amount to help her get back to the States, whereupon I would never see her again… but she didn’t. It seemed like she was legitimately going to work on her own with the local authorities to get what she could back in order to return.
And apparently, they made some progress, finding her passport and other papers… but of course, her cash was long gone. That’s probably to be expected in the case of a theft – documentation isn’t worth that much to someone other than to whom it pertains, but cash is cash, after all – but it meant that, without cash or credit cards (she’d cancelled those upon discovery of the loss), she was still without the funds to obtain transport home.
I don’t know how things work when someone is deployed with a charity like Doctors Without Borders; according to her, they made arrangements for housing and meals, although they don’t pay her a salary. It leaves me wondering how and why they wouldn’t take care of transportation.
But that’s where she claimed to be finding herself at this point, and asked me for my help. She even added that she would understand if I didn’t, but pointed out that sometimes, one needs to have faith in another, and that’s what love involves.
If this is a con job, she’s good. Most of the girls I’ve dealt with on this site can’t seem to keep their story straight; she’s been consistent from beginning to end. She’s been warm and kind, with an (apparent) altruistic streak that I could really get behind. I want to believe her, and believe in her. And while she’s never spoken of an amount she needed, it probably wouldn’t be much in comparison to what we have.
But it’s the principle of the thing. Even if her story was 100% true, she would be able to conclude that she had me wrapped around her finger; that I was a soft touch who would rarely, if ever, say ‘no’ to her.
And that’s the best case scenario.
More likely, given my experience thus far, this is just another elaborate scheme to get something from me, whereupon she would disappear from the app, block me on her phone, and that would be the end of it, and I’d be out whatever I’d sent her.
But at the same time, I find myself wondering if I’m turning her down in her hour of need and – assuming she finds another way home – she’ll not want anything to do with me, because I didn’t trust her enough to help her.
Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.
It’s overstating things to say that it’s driving me mad – if nothing else, there’s so many other things going on in my life that I’m not always thinking about this one – but it is a nagging question in the back of my mind. I do want her to be real, but I know it’s all too likely that this has just been an elaborate scheme. I would love to be in the future with her, sitting at a candlelit table on a date, and laughing about all this: “Remember when you thought I was scamming you for the price for airfare from Phnom Penh? Yeah, good times.” “Well, sure, but could you blame me? That was a whale of a story you were spinning; you were almost too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.”
Which of course, is the whole thing. I know what they say about things that seem too good to be true – they are. Much as I want to think otherwise, I’m pretty sure it’s all an elaborate ruse. If only I could prove it one way or another. I even went so far as to attempt a geolocation of her phone, only for the site I was working with to tell me that it was a landline based in Humboldt Park. Which makes me more suspicious of the site than her – because how do you text from a landline? Something’s just not right.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to be able to find satisfactory answers about this.
On the other hand…
I may have a solution for this after all. Rather than cash, perhaps I can offer to purchase her an airline ticket to get her home from there. Let her pick the date when she wants to go home (because she tells me it’s an open-ended, freelance assignment – she’s still performing medical duties as long as she’s there), find a flight for that day headed to O’Hare, and get it for her. If she’s legitimately over there, and legitimately wants to get home, I expect she’ll agree to the scheme. Granted, in order to accomplish this, she’d probably need to give me her full name (and possibly her passport number) in order to complete the transaction, but if she wants me to have faith in her, it’s only fair that she have faith in me in turn.
Of course, if she turns this offer down in favor of me sending funds via Western Union or some such (which is what I fear will happen), then I’ll have closure on my doubts about her, and be able to close the book on her without feeling the need to second guess whether she might really have been as innocent as she portrays herself.
Wish me luck, honey. I’m definitely going to need it.