Six years ago I first read about online love scams in a New York Times article. At the same time I met the lawyer for a professor at a local university. (I’m in North Carolina). The lawyer told me how the professor had fallen into the clutches of an online love scammer. Long story short, the professor ended up inadvertently trafficking drugs and landed in a Colombian jail. The university duly fired him. His lawyer was working to get the pay the university owed the professor for the few months before his arrest which cause him to lose tenure. True story!
My romance novel brain embraced the idea of online love fraud. I figured the scammers and their victims would make a great through line to hold together the shapeshifter trilogy I was planning.
Online Love Scams: My Shapeshifter Trilogy
I had already written The Alpha’s Edge, the novella that introduces my shapeshifter world.
Buy Me Love takes place in London and involves werewolves. Being the first book in the series, it sets up the problem of an international gang of online love fraudsters but does not solve it. Instead, the focus of the story involves a tricky murder …
…whose solution points toward online love scammers who seem to operate out of Florida.
Money for Nothing takes place in Orlando and Miami and involves werepanthers. Being the second book in the series, the question arises: Who are these scammers? All sorts of international bad guys are in play. The Russian mafia. Ukrainian tough guys. Petty American criminals.
Wealth Whispers takes place in California and Japan and involves werebears. Being the third and last book in the series, the plot confronts the scammers head-on.
In addition, all three books have a central love story that plays out honestly in the real world (as opposed to online fraud).
Online Love Scams: Always in Season
I began writing Wealth Whispers last year. This meant that five years had passed since I started the series. And I wondered whether the bit about online love scammers had become dated. I mean, who continues to fall prey to such obvious schemes? Information about how to spot online fraudsters of all types is available everywhere.
Not to worry!
In October 2021 the Washington Post ran an article about online love scams during the pandemic. The title: Romance scams cost consumers a record $304 million as more people searched for love during the pandemic.
And just this week Netflix dropped the documentary Tinder Swindler. I watched in amazement and horror as one woman began to describe her experience with a love scammer. And I thought of the sad professor who helped inspire my trilogy and who ruined his life looking for love.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen