August 3, 2023, Israel
Mary met John online. It was a dating site. She was frustrated in love and in life and felt that she had finally found the man of her dreams. Mary was in her 50's, obese and, without meaning to be cruel, not a model or a woman who would turn heads. John was young, muscular, athletic, and very handsome. Based on his photos he went out a lot for dinner, parties, drinks, had a great social life, but claimed that he was looking for his soulmate. He claimed to have found her in this middle aged simple American woman.
Soon he needed some financial help, and so the story goes. Mary sent many thousands of dollars. After years of this going on she discovered that John was not real. The photos were stolen by a scammer from instagram and social media, the video chats were done with IA, and the real person was some guy in Africa.
Dan met Vivian online. She found his profile on Facebook and was immediately drawn to him. She was stunningly beautiful, mid 20's, Slavic Russian looking. She said she lived in Ukraine. He was about 60, a little belly as men this age tend to have, greying etc. You get the picture. She affectionally called him Papi. He loved taking care of his princess, and... you got it, the sweet girl always needed money. He sent her tens of thousands of dollars over a period of 4 years. Whenever he tried to meet her, by planning to fly and see her, or sending her a ticket, some tragic event took place and she had to suddenly cancel at the last minute. "Oh Papi, my best friends' mom just died, I have to attend the funeral, I am sorry, I will not be able to make the flight" (send more money for another flight...) Finally, Dan decided to contact a firm that researches these cases. Of course, her name was not Vivian, etc. All the photos were stolen from a Russian woman's Instagram, the real person communicating with Dan was part of a network of scammers. The money was lost, and his heart was broken. So many men believe that these hot young women really want them...no sense of reality. (and this extends to martial arts...stay tuned).
What I only realized recently is that these scams involve Billions of dollars per year! Billions! I think the number for last year was over 12 billion US dollars.
I too have experienced this, but I did not fall for it. On a regular basis I receive Facebook messages... Hey handsome, I saw your profile picture and I would really like to chat with you. Where do you live? What are you doing right now? etc.
Now I am not lacking in self-confidence, but lets' put it all together, "hot" young woman from some foreign country, has nothing better to do with her time than reach out to a man more than twice her age, balding, long grey beard...yeah, sounds legit. However, sometimes it can be legit, but one must pay attention to the wording. I had one embarrassing case where a very attractive young woman sent me a friend request. I checked out her profile photo. She was "wearing" (if you can call it that) a skimpy barely there string bikini. I smelled a scam and rejected her. Turns out it was a young woman from South America who had attended one of my Krav Maga seminars. I meet a lot of students and can't remember everyone, and, I had seen her only fully dressed. I made a mistake and rejected her. She wrote me back asking why. This was difficult to explain, but... I managed.
However, when messages begin with, where do you live? What do you do? It is clearly a scam. If you contact me and you don't know that I teach Krav Maga, when nearly everything on my page is about Krav Maga, well, you are clearly a scammer and not one of the better ones. The better ones do their research.
And now we will begin to see the relevance to self-defense. First, protecting yourself from these scammers is in itself a form of self-defense. You are protecting your wallet, and your heart, which is no less important. You must be careful; you must study how to identify and block these threats just as you would study and train how to block a knife attack or a gun threat.
But there is another point that occurred to me. What makes so many people, intelligent people, fall for these scams and not see the red lights, the warning signs? How is it that people believe lies? I mean, lets' face it, if you are 60, overweight, balding, and a stunning young "perfect 10" woman in her 20's shows an interest in you, Do you really need a wizard to explain it to you? Do you really think she is attracted to you? You really think she is going for your charm and personality and father figure? C'mon, get real, she is scamming you. What makes people, both men and women, fall for these scams, and what can we learn from this?
In watching these video reports, and there are many of these online and we should learn from them, the victims say the same things again and again, he told me everything I longed to hear, he told me I am beautiful, he accepted me and loved me for who I am. Or, she told me she waits to hear from me every day, hearing my voice lights up her dark world, she truly needs me in her life. I felt important.
There is a song, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies, So I'll settle for one day to believe in you. (Fleetwood Mac)
If someone tells us what we want to hear, we will open up our hearts and our wallets. And this can be very dangerous and damaging. Many of the victims enjoyed the attention, the daily online chats, being told they are beautiful, being called babe, love, sweetheart. Even after they were confronted with the truth some chose to continue the "relationship", they simply enjoyed it so much.
It is all lies. Now here is the core point: People are too far removed from reality; people prefer a fantasy. (Just check out the movies, and see what sells). Thus, ordinary, very ordinary looking people want to believe they still "got it", they still have the looks, the charm to attract a beautiful younger person. Guys believe the line that "I don't want a younger man, they are only interested in one thing, and they cheat on me. I want an older man, who truly cares about me." Of course the older guy only wants this woman because she is gorgeous, personality means nothing. The entire relationship is based on delusions. It only works because the victim wants to believe they are special, "she said I am so handsome" (clearly not). An older woman, out of shape and well passed her prime really wants to believe that after three failed marriages and five kids some hot young businessman from across the world wants to travel the world with her. The fantasies that people believe.
The proof comes in - the profile is fake, the account number belongs to a criminal organization, the photos are stolen from professional models or athletes or soldiers, every excuse is made by the lover/scammer to avoid a face-to-face meeting, and still... the victims cling to the hope that it is all real. When the experts finally convince them that they are the victims of an elaborate scam, their world collapses, some lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, even their homes, the fantasy is over, they must return to reality with their tail in-between their legs.
And now a Krav Maga application. Most martial arts, I will repeat myself, most, or nearly all martial arts, are ineffective for real life violent encounters. Perhaps it is not a scam, but the techniques will not work, and yet the students, the victim of this illusion and delusion, persist in their belief, despite the proof, because they must believe. They want to believe. The fantasy is more attractive than the reality.
When the victim of a romance scam finally accepts the truth, they realize that they are better off with an older person, same age category as themselvs, overweight, grey and ordinary. This is where they will find happiness, and honesty. A the end, they all accept reality and begin their search for real people...
And so it is with self-defense systems. At first you might be sucked in, drawn in to "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", or some old Bruce Lee movie and even Surf Ninjas or whatever. It all seems so exciting. (There was a time when I never missed one of these films). And then, finally, you hopefully will accept reality, self-defense is not pretty. It has to be old and grey and overweight, simple, gross motor moves, honest. That is why we say our system is the Perfect System for Imperfect People. Such is reality. We are imperfect and our style matches our limited abilities. It is better to accept reality before you are scammed. You are not the guy in the movies, that is fake, and you will not land the beautiful Ukrainian model.
Reality might hit you like a ton of bricks, like the victim of a Romance Scam your face will drop, you will feel embarrassed, but hopefully you will wake up and return to yourself, return to reality. Reality is not Fantasy; life is not a movie. We are not models and hot young people do not chase after old wrinkled people. Reality, a tough pill to swallow, but .. the sooner the better.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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