DALLAS -- Why would a woman publicly share her most devastating dating experience? Because Emily Thompson doesn’t want you to live her nightmare.
"I feel like a fairly intelligent woman and it’s hard to find myself in this situation," she told us from her Dallas home.
Thompson divorced 17 years ago, and after more than a decade without dating, she joined Match.com in January. In March, she connected with Robert Parker, an Army man serving in Special Forces based in Cairo, but soon to retire. They started texting daily.
"When you’re messaging people multiple time every day and actually praying for their safety when you think they’re fighting for our country, you develop a closeness pretty quickly," she said.
He was kind to her, and when he seemed too good to be true, he sent pictures of himself holding a sign that said "I'm real."
They were in love and talked about a future.
"He said he was stationed in Fort Hood, so he would be coming back there to get his things, and then he was going to move to Dallas and buy a home," she said.
But when his retirement came weeks later, he told Thompson he was caught up at Customs at the airport in Dubai, and needed to pay for various paperwork to pass through.
"It was wired to Citibank in New York, which I felt comfortable about," said Thompson.
But on a whim, she asked a friend in banking if one of Robert Parker’s financial institutions was legitimate. The answer went beyond her drained accounts and broke her heart.
"I lost $131,000," she said. "Which was a lot of the money that I‘ve save up in the last 17 years since my divorce."
Thompson reached out to Dallas-based Trident Response Group, made up of military veterans. Their cyber security investigation confirmed the scam that came from an IP address all the way in Africa.
The money is long gone, but Robert isn’t. Days after Thompson’s discovery, his profile was still on Match. No one is sure who the man is seen in the pictures Thompson received.
She worries she's not alone in falling for this scam, so she's swallowing her pride in the name of saving others.
"If I can save people from that, by having to tell the story that I didn’t really want to share and make everybody aware that I was stupid enough to have it happen to me, that would be the silver lining that could come from this," she said.
If you know anything about the man in the photos, or have seen this profile before, let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.