He exploited her of money and emotions, but she eventually understood that it’s him who is actually the real victim and thus she left no stone unturned to pull him out of his misery.
A 62 years old divorcee from Sweden, Maria Grett, had set up a dating profile looking for a nice gentleman to share company with, and thought she’d hit it off with this 58-year-old man in Denmark. She was overjoyed when the man seemed trustworthy and so eager to start a relationship.
“He had a way and a sweetness I had never known in a man before,” she said. “He seemed so innocent in a way that it puzzled me.”
Unaware that he was actually a skilled scammer all set to play his cards, she was slowly lured into a feeling of comfort and trust.
As with every other scam story, this man showed interest in meeting her, but said that he had an urgent business job in Nigeria. Then after a while, he started claiming that he and his son had been mugged and injured, and couldn’t pay for medical bills. Already a victim of his sentimental plots, Grette sent thousands of euros to help, unaware that her trust was being exploited.
And then she got a message she never expected.
After sending the money, Grette began to feel suspicious, and her fears were confirmed when, after weeks of no contact, the man contacted her again.
This time, though, he confessed. He was not 58, and he was not from Denmark. Instead, he was a 24-year-old from Nigeria, involved in a dating scam network.
Although she was angry and hurt, but she mostly felt sorry for the young man. She asked him to tell her more about his life, and how he’d ended up running dating scams.
“The most terrible thing was not that he had cheated me, but that he had lost his innocence,” she said.
The man, Johnny, felt bad about what he did and called himself a “devil” for his actions.
Grette felt bad that a young, educated man was so desperate that he had to turn to a life of crime. So she decided to meet him face to face to help him out. She traveled to Africa, and the two met for the first time. And it turned out their connection really wasn’t all that fake.
“When I saw him at the airport in Abuja, tears ran down his face, and I felt as though I had known him all my life,” Grette said.
Because of their age difference, Grette and Johnny didn’t develop a romantic relationship, but they did become close friends.
Grette also met some of his friends, many of whom also worked as scammers and decided that she wanted to provide opportunities for young people so that they wouldn’t have to resort to scamming.
“I asked myself what I could do to prevent a situation where healthy, good young men fall into this kind trap,” she said.
She then started a program that provides young Nigerian artists and students the chance to attend events and conferences in Europe to help them get a leg up on their careers through funding and grants. She also helped Johnny pay for the rest of his college education.
Today, some seven years after they first “met,” Grette and Johnny are still in touch. Johnny works for an American oil company, and has given up scamming for good. As for the initial scam? Grette has no hard feelings.
“He has asked me so many times to forgive him and I told him that the most important thing is to forgive himself.”
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