The second time Gina Oleson falls for the fiancé scam, Jenny isn’t as understanding. A fiancé in Greece who needs help financing a business purchase? A texted image of a check from the Bank of England for three million Euros? Poor Gina lives in a crap Westfield, New Hampshire apartment with her elderly cousin, doesn’t have the wherewithal to accurately swipe her marshmallow pink lipstick across her crooked crepey lips, why would an astoundingly handsome international financier with ties to the Royal Navy message her on Facebook?
In Jenny’s banking experience this isn’t the type of question a Gina will ask herself. But it’s not the photo of an exotic guy in a military uniform; it’s the e-mails, the text messages that lure her. “I know how lonely you must feel Dearest, I’ve often felt that way too.”
“This check isn’t valid Gina,” Jenny tells her.
“All he wants is to deposit and wire him back three thousand.”
“We’ve been through this.”
“We have another three million coming if we can pay his fees. Once he gets back in the states. This is my fiancé.” She scrolls through her phone. “I showed you the picture.”
“This is fraud. We can’t allow you or the bank to be part of it.”
“So you never needed just a friend?” Her tongue touches the corner of her lower lip. “He talks to me at night. Texts. He’s company until it’s time for bed.”
“You guys won’t deposit this check?”
“I’m sorry. And I advise you to have no further contact with these people.”
“It’s not ‘These People’. It’s my Alexandro.”
“Gina, the checks, the picture and the text messages are fictional. They’re part of a conspiracy to defraud you. These people search for the needy, the naive. You are a lonely person on the internet who wears her heart on her sleeve. They will target you again and again. You are not safe. They do not care about you. You are their prey.”
By this time Gina has gathered the check, the copies of Alexandro’s various counterfeit ID’s, printouts Jenny provided of her sadly overdrawn account, and headed for the office door. “I’m sorry Gina. Please be careful, that’s all I can say.” Two months ago Gina gasped for breath as tears streamed from the corners of her eyes. This time she looks at no one as she exits the lobby, hugs her folder to her chest like a high school girl.
At lunch Jenny finds her on Facebook: Profile pic with her hair in a bow; crooked ghost-pink lipstick, rouge smears, unguarded smoky gentle eyes. Under her Profile, her liked pages a signal flare to fraudsters impersonating lovers around the world. Mature Adults Seeking Love; Honestly Single; Alone but Not Forever. Jenny takes a bite of her turkey sandwich, and without bothering to wipe the mayo off her screen, tap, tap, scrolls down and hearts them all.
Timothy Boudreau‘s recent work appears at Spelk, Fiction Southeast, Milk Candy Review, X-R-A-Y and Third Point Press. His collection Saturday Night and other Short Stories is available through Hobblebush Books. Find him on Twitter at @tcboudreau or at timothyboudreau.com.
‘I Love Our Voice When We Sing Off-Key‘ – Spelk
‘The Funkmeister‘ – Fiction Southeast
‘Eight Plants To Help You Thrive This Winter Even If You Live In Growing Zone Four‘ – Third Point Press
‘Saturday Nights and Other Stories – Hobblebush Books
Photo by LoboStudioHamburg
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