I met a girl on the Tinder dating app and we went out on dates a few times. I really liked her and she said she was looking to settle down. We went for a weekend getaway and had great sex. She shared that she had a lot of financial responsibilities in her family and needed to send some money for her mother’s surgery, but was running short because the EMI of her home loan was due. I transferred money into her bank which she promised to return. On our return she kept away saying she had to look into her mother’s health and schedule a surgery. She called me crying one night saying her mother had cancer and she needed money urgently. She also said she wanted to introduce me to her mother. I transferred a huge sum of money to her. After that I received no call from her. Her phone number was changed and she was off Tinder and all social media. After a month I saw her with another man wearing the same dress she wore on our first date. I feel like I have been played for a fool, and I let myself get taken in. I am angry with myself more than her. I feel humiliated that I paid for an illusion, and that I shut away my own wisdom. How do I make peace with this issue, with myself and with the women of the world?
Ans. At the outset, let me state that ‘The women of the world’ are all individuals first. Individuals with families, habits, circumstances and quirks that make them unique and different from each other. Thus, it would be unfair to judge ‘all women’ as ‘a single unit’. While it’s true that some women use their feminine charms for deception and to have their way, not all women are looking to bamboozle men. Such generalisations are opinion based and not fact based. People become who they are as a result of their genetics, personality, exposure and childhood circumstances. Based on the evidence, it would indeed seem that you have been scammed and while being at the receiving end of a scam comes at a steep emotional and financial price, know that all human beings get ‘had’ and ‘fooled’ in one way or another at various stages of their life. You are not alone in feeling vulnerable.
You have the option to report this incident to the necessary legal authorities if you are convinced that this was in fact an elaborate scam. However, you must be fully aware of the social, psychological, emotional and financial cost involved in waging ‘war’ against a woman in a country where as it is women are still oppressed and dealing with discrimination and sexual violence among other things. A narrative that doesn’t help you – may get spun if ‘mudslinging’ of any sort takes place.
The believability of your story may get further diluted if you get fenced in by the fact that you ‘the man’ had sex with ‘a woman’ before marriage. It’s easy for a woman to make you look like ‘the big bad wolf’ if she decides to launch a counter offensive against what you may feel is your moral-stance against a scam. You may also get framed by her as the perpetrator if the woman in question truly is a skilled scammer looking to punish you for ‘coming after her’ or ‘intercepting the game’.
You are probably aware that women in many parts of India are still made to feel like they are the ‘supporting sex’ and that they exist only to be companion pieces to men or subservient to their family’s agendas.
Sometimes a woman may act out a devious plan as a way to combat how inadequate or unsupported she feels in a society that largely expects her to hit her marks without really asking her ‘what she feels like’. In other cases, opportunistic scamming requires no reason other than the fact that it’s ‘easy to get away with’. Whatever her reasons, you need to understand that being a ‘provider’ to someone you barely know is a risky proposition. Your anger is understandable since your trust was broken but it’s also important to realise that one must learn to accept one’s contributions to a certain situation going awry as well. People are very careful with what they reveal about themselves to us and you need to learn to inculcate ‘a healthy spirit of doubt and enquiry’ whenever someone new enters your life. There is a fine line between being suspicious and being mindful. Painting a sad story of her money troubles could have been a way for her to gain your sympathy and subsequently hook you to bring out your wallet. Making herself available to you for sex could have been a way for her to get you locked into her life emotionally for the duration of the scam.
Since you may not be privy to her ‘real reasons’ for needing that money, you may very well have a challenging time trying to get all that money back (assuming that she may have spent that money or that the money may also have changed hands). The lesson is simple and elegant. Your wisdom is here to save and serve you. If you are feeling uncomfortable and suspicious about someone, you should not ignore that feeling.
Go after facts and keep opinions at bay for the time being — whenever you meet a new person. People can enter our lives in decidedly creative ways to get us to bid their calling or pay attention to their needs. It is our choice to engage with them or not. Even though the means of engagement have increased with the advent of apps such as Tinder, people still have the same needs. A person’s digital footprint on the internet can tell us a fair bit about who they are and where they have been. Use these tools effectively to carry an assessment out of who you are dealing with in the future. For the answers that the internet doesn’t supply you with, go the old fashioned way by spending a lot of time with the person you are trying to vet and understand.
Here are some handy tips on how you could have trailed all that money you loaned her. You could have asked her to show you her bank accounts first, you could have run a reference check with her friends or employees or family before giving her money to check her credit rating, you could have kept photographic evidence of the fact that she has money that you gave her by perhaps even recording video evidence of her accepting the money and promising to pay it back, legal paper work could have been drawn up to safeguard your investment, you could have kept a receipt of some kind when you gave her the money, you could have involved someone else as a guarantor or maintained proofs of transactions at every stage. These were your options and these could be your options if you are looking to loan money to someone again.
Be mindful of the fact that the world is an unfair and opportunistic place. You need to be very careful with whom you loan money to in the future. As far as the emotional ramifications are concerned, while this is no doubt a painful ordeal, know that in time, you will recover your losses and that not all hope is lost. You have the information you now need and time will heal the rest.
(Aman Rajan Bhonsle, Consulting Psychosocial, Analyst & Youth Mentor)