She raised her two daughters alone after her partner died, then at 51 she decided she was ready for love again.
But Erna van Zyl* of Durbanville near Cape Town regrets the day she met her dream man on a dating website.
In two months the man who said he was an American soldier named Ivan Nobile stole more than her heart. Now she’s still alone – and R111 000 poorer.
It began in May when she registered on the website www.singles50.com. ‘‘It’s not as if I’m the sort of person who goes looking for love on the internet but loneliness sometimes makes you get up to strange things. My friend had met a wonderful man there. I thought I had nothing to lose.’’
‘‘Ivan’’ told her he’d be leaving the US Army and investing his savings in SA. Meanwhile he asked her to help him by paying the cost of deals being done by an associate.
Finally she became suspicious when he told her his trip to SA would have to be delayed. ‘‘I googled his name and the site A Soldier’s Perspective, a site that provides information on crooks who claim to be soldiers, came up. It was all there – his name, photographs and letters from other women he and his partners in crime had caught with the same scam. It was like a blow to the solar plexus.’’
Erna learnt the con artist was a member of a syndicate based in Ghana that uses the names of real American soldiers to defraud people.
‘‘I think the shock has hit me only now,’’ she says sadly. ‘‘It will be a long time before I believe a man who talks about love again. A very, very long time.’’
* Not her real name.
Read the full article in the YOU of 15 July 2010