A Williams Lake woman who was victim to a Facebook scam this fall is anxious to share her story.
While she wants to remain anonymous, she asked the Tribune/Weekend Advisor to warn locals to be wary of meeting people on the Internet.
While she escaped handing over any of her savings, she’s decided to call her scammer the Internet Snake.
She was first approached by her scammer on Facebook in August.
“He said he’d learnt of me through another friend of a friend on Facebook,” she said. “He said his name was Larry Alberto from Clifton, New Jersey.”
Alberto told the woman he liked her picture and profile and wanted to get to know her better.
The romance moved along pretty quickly, she admitted.
“Within a week he was telling me he wanted to meet me, get married and the whole bit. I was thinking, ‘slow down buster.’”
Initially some sort of instinct compelled her to be evasive and not tell him too much.
But eventually Alberto said he worked independently for a company called Petronas and that he had been awarded a $3.7 million dollar contract for work in Malaysia.
He even sent her a copy of the contract, along with his phone number.
Soon after receiving a copy of the contract, she called him up to congratulate him.
“After that he phoned me twice a day,” she said. “Early in the morning and then later at night.”
It went from there to him arriving in Malaysia and the next thing she knew, Alberto’s grandfather, James Alberto, was sick.
“His grandfather lived in Clifton, New Jersey as well, and Larry said he didn’t trust the nursing home his grandfather was in so he was bringing him over on the plane to Malaysia.”
Allegedly, Alberto brought his grandfather to Malaysia, and once he arrived his grandfather’s heart condition worsened.
He told her the surgery was going to cost $5,000 U.S. and he wanted to borrow the money from her.
“I told him I didn’t have that type of money, although I did have $2,500 saved because I was going on a trip.”
Alberto then had someone pose as his grandfather, come on the phone, and talk to her.
His voice was raspy and weak, so after that it tugged on her heart strings, she said, and she considered sending the money.
“This happened on a Friday and he said his grandfather only had 72 hours to live type of thing.”
She asked Alberto if he couldn’t borrow money from the contract he was getting in advance, but he told her “no.”
When she asked about family, he told her all of his family died in a car accident in Italy.
Responding she encouraged him to call the Canadian Embassy or try other options, like getting a loan.
Instead, he told her she was the only family and friend he had and he didn’t know who to turn to.
“I go to church and on the Sunday I went to church and the sermon that day was on doing good things for others.”
She returned home from church, called Alberto, and told him she would help him out.
“He gave me all the information through Western Union to wire it to an account in Singapore, and the name of this doctor to send it to.”
Luckily she decided to google the doctor’s name and several sites came up about him.
The name she was given was Mashita Binte Jamal, but the sites suggested he had used many different aliases and it was a romance scam.
“So I phoned the Canadian Fraud Centre and the lady who answered said he’s taken up to $500,000 off of people preying on them.”
She wrote Alberto an e-mail, told him he was busted, that she knew who he was, and that he wasn’t getting any money from her.
“I told him what a jerk he was for doing this to me, that I had trust issues, and he’d used them against me.”
Looking back at her gullibility she can laugh, but says at the time she didn’t laugh.
“I put all the information in an envelope and wrote Internet Snake across the top,” she said. “People are always telling me I should try Internet dating, but no thanks.”
For more on internet romance scams read our interview with the Canadian Fraud Centre at http://www.wltribune.com/news/231757161.html.