ORLANDO, Fla. – Pages of pickup lines from what is purported to be a Nigerian “romance playbook” offers insight into
the scripted conversation young Nigerian men use to fool unsuspecting women on social media dating sites.
Diane Standish, a Central Florida widow, lost $270,000 to a man who used the photo of a foreign ambassador in a lie of love crafted with many of the same lines found in the playbook.
Standish, who filed for bankruptcy a few months ago, gave her alleged love interest her life savings. Today, she rents a room from a relative in Orlando.
The man, who claimed to be a contractor, asked her for various amounts of cash to help pay for a bogus construction project.
“Four months into it and he asked me to marry him,” she said. “ It makes me sick to my stomach.”
News 6 showed her the playbook that includes lines ranging from “Hi how was your weekend," to “Do you like to re-marry again?"
“I think every woman should see this, I would highly recommend it,” Standish said.
News 6 obtained the playbook from California-based Social Catfish, a high-energy group of cyberdetectives who track down the true identities of women and men claiming to want relationships on the online dating circuit.
Social Catfish CEO David McClellan said a 62-year-old woman’s poor health inspired an alleged Nigerian Romeo who goes by the name of Luke, to send the playbook to them via text.
“They’re screwing with your head," McClellan said. “They're pushing you to whatever it takes to give them money.”
In a Facetime interview with Social Catfish, Luke explained how he throws out a net in hopes of getting responses.
“We just send 1,000 messages, you get 100 replies,” he said.
In an email to News 6, Luke, who said his real name is Ogbama Godfrey, said he wanted to help expose the scammers but was afraid he would face arrest by U.S. authorities.
Godfrey wrote in part: “Know I’m going to be arrested after the interview, I might be used as bait for many successful scammers, it’s indeed a nice thing to see how much you want to investigate and know more about romance scam.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams “rank number one” on total reported losses with a staggering $143 million last year.
The FTC reports the average loss per victim is about $2,600.
The catfish-style impostors use photographs lifted from legitimate social media sites such as Facebook.
Godfrey has used about a dozen different photos and admits stealing thousands of dollars from unsuspecting women.
The 22-year-old said the women are actually considered “clients” with a typical profile of: widow, divorced or depressed.
To see more of the social catfish interview with Godfrey, go to socialcatfish.com.
For more information on romance scams, click here.