Wednesday, May 24, 2023

His real name is Mike: a Cautionary Tale

 It started out easy enough, just an innocent DM on Instagram. Ordinarily, I would ignore a random guy sliding into my DMs but we had mutual friends so I thought we must have gone to school together. So I replied, I was kind of talking to someone at the time so it didn't go anywhere at first but we would chat back and forth and I got to know him. 

Josh, was funny and good-looking, in the Navy and from my hometown. As it turned out we had not gone to school together; it was just a fluke that we shared mutual friends. He was a total thirst trap though so I understood how they got onto his followers list. Presently stationed in Djibouti he was coming home in June and was really looking forward to it.  He told me he had just completed the nurse practitioner program and worked in the hospital there on base.  Even though when I ran his pictures by my friend who was married to a Navy man for many years she said that his rank, and job didn't match what he was telling me.  He had told me he was a Captain but his insignia was only showing petty officer and that he was a chaplain.  His reasoning for this was that all his pictures were taken before his deployment and the completion of his nursing program and promotion. He couldn't take any on his deployment because of the no cameras rule. So his entire IG account was running on old pictures, according to him. 


When I questioned Josh about my doubts he explained it all away.  Foolishly I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  When things ended with the other guy I was talking to Josh admitted he wanted a shot with me. I had reservations but I moved ahead, charmed by his humor and kind words.  His English was spotty sometimes, but he said this was because he was born and raised in Italy, before moving to the US at the age of 12, though he had forgotten all his Italian.  He was insistent he had fallen for me and we were meant for each other.  I wasn't so sure, but I let him talk his talk. When he finally built up to saying he loved me I admit I said it back; I was vulnerable and I fell for his act hook, line, and sinker. 

He asked me to do him a favor. Sure, what's that? Do you have CashApp? Yes, but I'm not sending you any money... No he said, "I'm going to send you money." Shocked, I asked why. He said he needed me to buy cryptocurrency with it and send it back to him. I asked him why he couldn't do this himself and it had something to do with base restrictions and blended into an explanation of how they use cryptocurrency for everything to avoid exchange rates. Thinking this was a one time thing, I agreed and gave him my handle. $20 appears in my account and I converted it for him.  The next day, I woke up to $150 waiting to be accepted and a message from him asking me to do it again.  I sent him a message telling him that he was not allowed to abuse my account like this, that he had to ask me before he just dumped money on me like this.  I obligingly went ahead and converted the money.  A few hours later more money showed up, with a text asking if I could do it again.  This time I got angry and told him he was violating my boundaries.  At the time I was busy and could not stop to be his crypto banker.  He would have to wait until it was convenient  for me to do it.  That's when the guilt started. 

Josh started laying in the guilt about how it only took a few seconds to do, I couldn't pause whatever I was doing for a few seconds? I must not love him as much as he thought. Surely I am lying about my feelings for him.  I fell for it and just did the conversion. Waking up the next morning to only to find deposits totaling $900 in my CashApp. I was livid. I was being used and I didn't like it, not to mention something about this felt shady as fuck. The money was coming from all these random people but all going back to Josh? I told him I wouldn't do it anymore. I refused and if anymore money showed up I would refund it immediately. He became angry and told me I didn't love him and wanted him to starve and live without basic necessities. What, the Navy doesn't feed you? 


He said if he wanted snacks he had to buy them, and he has to buy all his own toiletries.  That's what he claims he uses the cryptocurrency for. The random people sending the money are family members of other service members sending them money and he converts it for a fee and distributes it to that service member. It was his side business. How generous of him. I backed down and converted the $900 to cryptocurrency. It still didn't feel right to me no matter what he said.  My gut was telling me this was off, no it was screaming at me that something was off about this whole thing and I wasn't listening.

One day he tells me he wants to help support my daughter and I because he cares about me and he doesn't like my present situation.  He announced he was sending me a check, all I had to do was take it to get it cashed at the Walmart Money Center (I didn't even know such a place existed) and deposit in the bank. Once the cash was deposited I would keep a certain amount and send the remainder back to him as cryptocurrency.  I was like, sure your going send me a check, whatever. Lo and behold a few days later a check did appear for $1600! I tried to cash it at the Walmart as instructed but the check couldn't be read by the check reader at the Money Center.  My gut dropped.  I think I knew then what was coming.  When I told Josh that the check couldn't be read, he agreed I should just go to my bank to cash it.  Upon arriving at my bank I was told that because my account was relatively new a cash deposit of this size would need manager approval.  They asked me to wait.  I go and sit down.  The bank manager comes out and asks me where I got that check,  I tell her my boyfriend sent it to me.  She sighed deeply.  She asked me to follow her to her office where she offered me a seat.  She then asked me if I had been with my boyfriend long, if I had seen him or talked to him in person, and if I knew the person who had signed the check? I had not been with him long. We had only seen each other in pictures because he said his mission protocols wouldn't allow video chats or cameras of any kind.  He told me the person who signed the check was his business manager who handled his business interests and trust fund.  

The bank manager looked me dead in the eye and said "This check is a fake."  She asked me if I had ever heard of a Sweetheart Scam.  I had not. She went on to ask "He wanted you to cash this and deposit it, keep some, and send him the rest?"  Cold just washed over me as I realized my gut was right the whole time. Isn't it always? The check she said, would bounce, and I would be liable for the money not him; he would get away with the money and off scot free.  My face and burned with embarrassment and anger. Her recommendation was that I choose not to deposit it and take it to the police.  I told her I had a child and I would absolutely not be depositing the check and yes I would be going to the police. So I left the bank and got in the car and went straight to the police station and filed a police report.  I even gave them the picture of the driver's license he sent me to prove his identity.  I gave them everything I had.  I locked all three of my credit reports.  When  I left the Police Department I had about 80 texts from Josh wanting to know where I was, what happened, what about the check, hello? 

I told him the check was fake. I told him I'd been to the police; that I'd given them everything. Josh went ballistic, absolutely nuclear. He said he didn't believe me that I must have cashed the check and pocketed all the money for myself. That I never sent him anything proving I even went to all these places I claimed I went to. That I was lying about all of this just to get his money. How dare I go to the police! When he calmed down I started getting texts about how I didn't really love him and now he could never love another woman ever again because of me. He could never trust anyone ever again, I had ruined that for him. In my mailbox when I got home was another check, another arrived the next day.  I blocked his messages, as advised by the police but he would just message me from another number or email.  Blocking him became exhausting. Josh would pop up everywhere and I didn't always immediately register it was him because it would be different platforms and I'd receive a message and respond cheerfully and he would sour it instantly by saying he could see I was living a happy life without him. BOOM... it's Josh. Block. 

One day after another attempted contact I got curious.  I got online and found a website called Social Catfish.  It's a website that for a small fee allows you to deep search the web with an image in order to confirm someone's identity.  So I took one of his images and I ran it.  Boy was I shocked at what came back! First was a CBS News segment on people's images being used for romance scams with this guy... named Mike Sency, but wait it was Josh, except this was the real person. Josh Nanos, @dadinkjosh, is a fake person. He steals images from Mike Sency's IG page and posts them with the exact same caption and everything verbatim and then passes himself off as him. Which is disturbing on multiple levels, first he is not this guy Mike, second he is pretending to be a service member and garnering attention for that of IG, third he is clearly running a scam operation under the guise of this man's face.  This man is a chaplain for the Navy and deserves better than that.  He is actually a hilarious guy and quite handsome, I only wish I had actually met him instead of Josh.  I did try sending Mike a DM telling him about Josh so he could report him but he hasn't even looked at it.  He has a very large page and I'm sure he gets tons of rando girls messaging him all the time.  He probably never even noticed my message. I at least made the effort though. 

Not Josh

So there it is my cautionary tale of woe. Don't answer those random DMs kiddos mmmkay? It's probably some dude in Djibouti trying to scam you... or some crazy chick trying to tell you about the guy that scammed her pretending to be you.   

1 comment:

  1. My scammer was called Justin Maurice. I have him blocked now in so many ways. Over the year and a half that I corresponded with him I probably sent him $10,000. A little bit at a time. time. He’s an African. An FBI agent is who got me out of it. Actually he’s a Nigerian. I doubt that I’ll ever see my money again but it is a cautionary tale.

    Here lately always four-star generals have been contacting me on Facebook wanting to become friends. My question is why is a four-star general or a four-star Navy man trolling Facebook on the Internet for women
    There’s more and I’ll go into it later.