Southern Illinois native and former expat, Tiffany Smith, spent nearly five years living and working abroad as a teacher in the UAE and Morocco. The now University of Minnesota Ph.D. student shares a dating scam nightmare that she encountered, in hopes that it will save someone else in the future.

Around the time of her birthday, Tiffany decided to check out Bumble Boost, the paid version of the app that allows women to see which men are swiping on them first. She came across a man named “Kevin G” who she describes as an innocent-looking, attractive, and dark-skinned Nigerian brotha based in Canada.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Smith

“I swiped right and sent the first message,” Tiffany told Travel Noire. “I wrote, ‘Hey Kevin. Glad we matched. How’s your Saturday treating you?’ He responded with a text that said, ‘Hey Tiffany, glad to match with you. My Saturday is just about starting. Just woke up now. How are you doing and how is your weekend so far?'”

This basic exchange led to the two continuing their conversations while potentially moving to something more meaningful. The exchanges via the app led to calls and video chats on WhatsApp, and those calls led to them eventually meeting in person.

“When we met, it was beautiful. He looked like his profile picture, he cooked, he even cleaned the dishes after. We laughed, we watched movies, and things were going great. Yet, reflecting from now, there were so many red flags.”

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Smith

Soon after, things began to go downhill and Kevin G began “future faking” as Tiffany describes it. He started promising a future with her in hopes that it would persuade her to give him money, which he was after from the beginning.

He began promising a long-term relationship while trying to convince Tiffany to relocate to Canada to live with him. However, when she told him that she would not move, things started to get even worse.

“First, there was a death in the family,” Tiffany said. “Then, his mother got severely sick. Finally, his mother died. During these “traumatic” events, he pulled on my sympathy strings to help him financially. I eventually gave him money. Because of his mother’s death, he went into a deep depression and I blamed myself for being selfish toward his needs.”

Courtesy of Tiffany Smith

As she continued to give him space to deal with his “traumatic events,” Tiffany began to take a step back to really think about all that was happening. Her intuition moved her to begin researching Kevin through Google. What she found was shocking.

She found that the name he had given her was a lie and all of the documents he had shown her to prove his identity were fake. As she continued to research she came across an article with the headline “NIGERIAN MAN FACING DOZENS OF CHARGES FOR EXCHANGING FAKE CURRENCY.” She also found out that the man she had begun falling for had 41 pending criminal offenses.

“Confrontation was met with more beautiful lies. He pleaded that his accounts were compromised, he never spent a night in jail, and of course the all-time favorite… ‘it wasn’t me.’ I had literally been psychologically hijacked because his lies began to make sense.”

Through her digging, Tiffany was able to find and contact what she thought was an ex-girlfriend of Kevin’s. However, that woman turned out to be his wife and mother of his child. The woman explained everything to Tiffany and confirmed that everything was certainly a lie.

Courtesy of Tiffany Smith

“Since I’ve returned to the U.S., I pinch myself as a reminder that I’m safe, I’m blessed, and I will heal. Attempting to get the money back seems counterproductive because the money would most likely come from
another innocent person who also fell victim to his romance scamming.”

Since her encounter, Tiffany has taken an interest in researching romance scams around the globe. She notes that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of occurrences has tripled since 2015 and $201 million has been lost to romance scammers around the world.

She shares her story willingly in hopes that it will help other Black women, and women in general, see the signs before they happen and to also save those who may currently be in a situation.

If you have any additional questions or you want to hear more of Tiffany’s story in detail, check out her podcast Abroad in Education. You can also find her on Instagram: @Abroad_in_ed.

Related: Traveler Story: ‘I Fell In Love In Kenya, But It Was All A Lie’