On October 6, 2007 an email came in through MySpace. This was how my 6 months of nightmare began:
A "Giovanni Macciano" claimed to be an American doctor based in Iraq with the Red Cross. Divorced and with only a daughter, both parents dead - he posed as a man looking to start a new life. He wanted to get to know "Malaysian" lady as he is coming to Malaysia for a new life while looking to invest in biotech (as preferrential treatment given by government).
First of all, I really didnt understand why anyone as handsome as what was shown in the picture need to look for relationships online. I told him he has many choices when he comes here, many ladies would love to know him, there was no need to look for one online. He was attractive but I was in no mood to get involved romantically - since I was planning for a separation.
He sensed my reluctance, kept persuading me, saying one should never be closed to new possibility. Gradually I open up to chat. For one month, it was just chatting, but I kept asking for his business plans, thinking I really could help pave the way for his enterprise here. I also love his idea of "small time charity" - which fits into my ideal life plan.
Later I was told he helped some nobles escape the war that broke out in Iraq. The family was running for their lives with all the money they had and gave him some 4mil USD as a reward for saving their lives. He would then show picture of a chest of cash.
Now, truly I was unmoved by the story at all. I only told him, fine, just be very careful with the money for it may bring dangers to him. I did not think much about it - for these money if managed badly, cannot last very long. I have met people who made more money than that and I prefer real businesses that bring in continuous flow. Also, any lottery in Asia is about the same as what he had, or even more - and NOT in cash, which was dangerous and cumbersome, if not somewhat crude too.
He asked, "Can I trust you with my life?" Strong question and after pausing, I said, Yes. Then he told me a diplomat will contact me, and deliver something to me. I was not even asked if I am willing to receive it nor the contents of it. He later said all I need to do is to verify it as he had paid USD18K for the courier services, so that his thing can reach me SAFELY. I then told him better not, for I felt no customs would allow those kinds of "goods" enter without questioning. But he told me be cool, diplomats have special channel and I just need to keep it while he waits for relief doctors to take his place.
I was feeling uneasy and unsure - if he really would send me those money he had. If he really did, how am I to keep it? I really don't want to keep it for I have been robbed so many times at home and I did not feel easy at all. Rather, I felt a sense of heavy responsibility.
The very next morning, I received a call from a "Morris Clinton" claiming I need to pay USD2100 for "Non-Disclosure charge" at Singapore. I thought, OK, small amount and I can help "Giovanni" with that and sent USD2100 by Moneygram to Singapore Changi Airport.
Then the next day he was to come to Malaysia, then he was "stucked" at Malaysian customs. The staff at the diplomatic channels wanted me to "verify" the contents of the luggage. Instead of asking me to an office, I was told to go to a shopping centre and later to a seedy hotel. That was one of the most frightening times.
Honestly, I had no idea what was happening, only that I have to keep the luggage for Giovanni's sake, since he has entrusted me to do so. In that seedy hotel room, two black men, wearing United Nation badges, claimed they do this as side "duty" and I must open the luggage to verify contents. I was then given an envelope with key and code. To my shock, the luggage did contain lots of USD, neatly bundled up and they even took some out to show me. I was fearful if I would be killed there and then.
But the moment they opened the box, they acted so "shocked" and wanted to implicate me for being involved in "terrorism", until i explained that, No, this was sent to me by a doctor now in Iraq but on his way to me. I am just keeping that on his behalf as he was here to invest and do small time charity. Due to the "unexpected nature" of the contents, the "officials" asked for a "Money Laundering Clearance".
Later, the agent "Morris Clinton" would ask me to prepare USD50K for "money laundering clearance". But I was upset, why did Giovanni assume that I would have the money? Giovanni was like he was busy still in Iraq and the relief doctors are not there yet, so he cannot leave. That left me with no choice but to "take care" of his business, since these was someone's fortune. I was acting out of great sense of duty. I have to raise the money no matter what, for how can I make him lose all those money that was his? Surely he has the ability to pay me when he gets the box.
But unfortunately, after that was paid, there were more problems. First the officers refused to let "Morris" off - just in case he was involved in terrorism, so they sent him back to Singapore, where the "regional" headquarters are. Then Giovanni was to fly to Singapore, verify he is the owner of the luggage and to prove that he is no money launderer.
While in Singapore, Giovanni was asked by the "headquarters" of diplomatic office, to get "Anti-Terrorism" certificate from UK, if not his luggage will be confiscated. That requires USD100K. But after some negotiations with UK World Bank office, they agree to take USD30K as deposit and the rest within one month. I didnt have much left by then. So I decided to just use my last savings in Hong Kong and sent him those money - to Singapore.
I was getting tired as my life was busy, but the constant cry for help really interrupted my peace. But I was stucked, I can never walk away and yet had difficulty to move on to help him, so I started applying for high interest business loans.
Next, while he was waiting for me to raise the USD30K, he was "physically assaulted" by some people who knew about the luggage. He was so badly attacked he needed to be hospitalized and the agent "Dr Morris" had helped him out. But I must pay for the medical fees, GBP4K before he could come back to Singapore from UK.
During the 2 weeks Giovanni went "missing" - recuperating, someone else pretended to be him, I was suspicious but could not be clear minded enough. He claimed to be Giovanni and was actually attacked by the the courier agent, Dr Morris, who was "extorting" from him since he knew about the cash in the box. With some help from Africans based in UK, he would go to Nigeria for safety as Morris could take his life. I was really upset about all the stories, praying hard for his safety and was asked to sent money for him in Lagos, Nigeria. I did as he told me there was no money for food or clothes as he lost all his personal belongings to "Morris".
Later, the "real" Giovanni called again, saying he was attacked and the man who claimed he ran to Nigeria for safety was actually his attacker. Dr Morris was indeed a kind man and offered him to stay in his house, for safety. I felt guilty about thinking what a horrible person this "Morris" was. Since then, I trusted him, thinking he was so kind to save Giovanni's life.
So I had been sending money for Giovanni's daily use in London, while raising the money for the medical fees. He was seeking treatment in UK and the fees were expensive. Some GBP4,000++.
After all is paid, then the agent said the luggage took too long to be cleared in Singapore and there was a fine - "demurage". So that was another USD100K. But Giovanni had negotiated with them to accept USD70K.
The problems dragged on. When I got my bank loans, I sent to Singapore, thinking - OK, my duty done. I was not even thinking about sharing the money in the luggage. However, Giovanni had professed love and wanted to start a new life, all kinds of sweet promises and all I cared about was for a good man to be "freed" from all the injustice brought to him just because he has been given the small fortune. I was truly worried about his personal safety much more than my own money being at stake.
Until all is paid, finally, he was to fly to Singapore. That day he was supposed to be here, he "disappeared". I was worried, why he didnt turn up at the airport. Then I called "Morris", who claimed "Giovanni" left him in Singapore, only saying he was on his way to me. To me, I was really worried now - I went so far to help Giovanni, now he is missing and all my money gone!
After a few more days, I kept calling Morris if there was news of Giovanni. Yet a few days later, Morris called me urgently and told me, Giovanni was stucked in NY. Giovanni supposedly had an affair with his daughter in London and had planned to meet in NY. Unfortunately, Giovanni was detained at NY airport, his daughter was there but could not find Giovanni and flew back to London tearfully.
I was deeply hurt. Not only his promises of love was feake, he betrayed me and also left with all the money without repaying me. Morris pretended to help me get "justice" done. So he then flew to NY to see what can be done. While there, Morris told me he found Giovanni detained at the airport - as his daughter had reported to him. He was also very sick, remorseful and helpless.
Morris told me US airport officials asked for USD12K before he can bring Giovanni back to UK and deal with him. He was "mad" with Giovanni for messing with his late-teenage daughter.
At this point I was tired. I said, even if Giovanni wanted to run off with some other female, I can take that, it is OK. But please I should get my money back, I have no idea I was a victim still.
After I paid yet another 12K USD, they went back to UK. The next thing is, Giovanni could not breath and was sent to hospital again - may be he was afraid of what might happen to him when Morris were to question him about the elopement.
Then, the US embassy people visited Giovanni in hospital, and the next thing is FBI found him and he has to go back to US for answering about the man he helped escape out of Iraq. So tearfully Giovanni told me to take care of the box after Morris deliver to me, invest wisely and wait for his return.
I was still stupidly kind at this point, Thinking, oh no, a good man is going to be held for unjust reason. He was innocent, I thought. So I had to "work" with Morris, to see how to deliver the box. Morris, asked for final GBP4K, since the box he left at UK customs when he got back from NY. He didnt bring home as he was afraid of crime.
After paying the last GBP4K, making my total loss about USD180K, Morris did not send any Western Union back to me. First he claimed he was questioned by American embassy, about how he knew about Giovanni. The next day he disconnected all phones. That was last Monday, April 7.
So for the past one week, I was numbed by the loss and the sudden realization it was a scam from the beginning, I should have heed the voices back in November when the bad people lured me to the room for "verification".
This is so insidious. I am now loaded with lots of debts and may take me may be 10 years to pay back. All savings and my kids' money are gone. I should be dead by now, but I am just calm outside. Inside me, it hurts so much I dont know what I should do now.
I cannot believe people can be so crafty and mean - even they knew I was praying hard for them even. I also believe, my constant mention about God and Bible made them even more determined to take maximum advantage of me.
I dont know what I should do next. I could not tell anyone and everyone will only rub salt in, saying it was my greed and stupidity. But from day 1 to now, I was never greedy about Giovanni's money - I never see it as mine. I was more interested if he would build a good company here and makes profits year after year. Those money will dwindle if not managed properly. I never thought of taking anything
from Giovanni, only to build a great relationship - which I thought existed. I was truly concerned about the "injustices" that happened to him.
Please tell me, I must be the greatest fool on earth and lost the most money in romance scam? may be I dont want to know too, but the guilt and shame really kept me sleepless and caused me to fear men. I thought after 6 months of lies and endless troubles, I can have my peace back. Now I have to deal with this pain that I could tell no one else. Except God and you all here, perhaps. And to pick up the pieces of debts left behind.
Where is justice? Is there none? Seeing so many victims - I felt I am not the only one but probably the worst hit victim, I felt so helpless.
Please can all of you suggest what I can do now. Laws are useless- with loopholes, bad people walk away with murders. Waiting for God's justice is one way. But I am in so much debts and ruins now...I have been scammed, thats attack 1. Now I will have to face money lenders/ creditors, attack 2.
File comment: This is most likely stolen photo, but were given to me
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File comment: This picture was used in Myspace
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