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An Online Romance Scammer Called Chelsea Boamah-Ford
I am a very savvy researcher and quite aware of scams online. I know the Internet is filled with lies, truth, and in-between. So, many times, I verify what I come across. I had read about online romance scams, but felt, surely, I would be able to detect it. That was partially true, but not before I had sent money to someone I had never met on a popular online romance site. In fact, I seldom ever use these sites, but in this instance, I casually created a profile, not expecting anything to happen.
Then it did.
A person called Cinderellabunch contacted me through the romance site. She was interested. We exchanged a few texts via the online romance site but she quickly wanted me to download a free text app called, WhatsApp. Many use this to chat with, so texting was much quicker and easier. So far, it was very casual conversation and could last hours. Eventually, I asked her what her real name was, she said, Chelsea Boamah, but also used Chelsea Ford for legal documents. I asked for proof and she send an image of her US passport. I pressed her about the Ford last name, she said it was after her father. Knowing about scams, I was just waiting for a request of money as a sure sign. None came. We texted each other on and off for days about usual things. She sent photos of her mom and dad. He was a captain for a cruise line, which I could not verify. She said she had been living in the UK until moving to Brooklyn, NY, and by age 5, became a US citizen. She went to Morris High there. Her parents were both deceased now and she was living in Rocky Mount, NC. She told me that she had been a model and after the death of the man she was to marry, stopped modeling since 2012. The first odd thing was that the cruise line she claimed her dad worked for was only based in Australia. How did the UK fit into this? She said her mom was an Australian citizen and was in Poland when she gave birth to her. Her father was American. I tried calling her many times but only spoke to her a few times.
Chelsea used photos from Nikki Sims and Ann Angel to attract with. Both of these women are attractive and each has their own websites, both are soft-porn "stars". Many scammers have stolen these photos and created online profiles on dating websites. Ann Angel has a huge catalog of photos and videos from as far back as 2004 that members to her website have access to, including the scammer. They simply save the image and video, edit them, and create a new identity with them like Chelsea did. Of course, I did not even know who these women were until it was too late. The scammer might be a man using a stolen passport or ID, or a woman who used Chelsea's passport for a new identity online. So, all photos I received were of Ann Angel who I thought was Chelsea. A few were of Nikki Sims, and I did noticed some facial features were different and even confronted Chelsea about this. There was a plausible excuse always.
The texting continued for a week or so, chatting. It was this frequency that lured me into what I thought might be real. The one thing I was never asked and is typical when meeting someone is, what did I do for living? She asked if I was married or divorced, any kids, where I lived, phone number. All standard things any face to face encounter does. We exchanged all the standard details. Sex talk was actually minimal. After the first week, I requested a webcam or Skype call to verify whom I was talking to was the same as in the photos. She agreed but we could never get it done. She avoided using her email, probably because I could actually trace the IP address etc. She avoided sending me an audio chat that can easily be done with the app used. Yes, I found this odd, but continued. She said she was looking to marry and have kids within the next five years, she said I was her "man" and would never let me go. She called me "babe", "baby", to gain my affection and trust. Was I suspicious, oh yeah, but thought I could control it, put the brakes on, if and when money was requested.
I was wrong.
One night she called from a cell phone. I did a reverse lookup and found out the number was for Goldirocks Jewelry in Oceanside, NY, near Brooklyn. The call was from Florida at 4 a.m. The store is owned by Stuart Leibowitz. The number was even on their website. There was no message. I asked her about this and she said she did not know him and that she had used a taxicab driver's phone. I suspect this would have been for money. Was Chelsea and Stuart in on the scam? Maybe. I would never know.
Chelsea told me she would be leaving for Ghana to work with UNICEF for two months. She was working on project to get donations for a sick orphan at OSU in Accra who needed a costly operation and to talk about Ebola. I checked with both agencies and both said there was no Chelsea Boamah listed. So, far, no money was requested, so I was confident I could just say no, so I continued with this cloak and dagger much like an investigative reporter. Checking was easy, just use email. Soon, Chelsea sent photos of her in Ghana (actually, Ann Angel). She said that the government had provided her with a free studio apartment, but had to pay for utilities,food, and Internet. Internet was paid weekly. By now, we had been texting a lot for two weeks daily. She would send more intoxicating Ann Angel photos (these were natural looking, selfies, office video) and respectable (not x-rated at all). I continued to feel confident I could refuse any request for money. The first of several, emergency situations arrived. Her credit card and access to her bank account was blocked due to a security risk. She had no more cash. She needed money. She could not get an advance from UNICEF and she was alone there. I first said, no. Not my problem. She said the Internet bill was due and she needed food. She pleaded with me, played upon my emotions for her, used the guilt card. Like a warrior, I resisted. Eventually, I did wire her a small amount in USD. I had violated the first rule: Never send money to another you have not met in person!
This took us into the money phase. This began in the third week of meeting online. There was not many conversations that did not end with a hint or request for money. Something was always needed or wrong. She told me that she wanted to get a Gold Agent license there to be able to buy, sell and export gold. She wanted me to buy a gold detector to find it. Alarms went off loudly now. This was not going to happen involving over thousands of dollars. I found out that in Ghana only Ghanians can get a license. I argued why a gold detector was a stupid idea. I really frustrated her with logical arguments she could not challenge. She would call me, have me talk to a "government official" trying to convince me to send over $2000. Eventually, she gave up. She wanted to start her business exporting gold to my address and when she returned, we would sell it abroad. We're talking about gold bars! One bar is valued at $32K. She wanted me to open an equity line of credit at my bank to deposit funds into when gold was sold. Of course, I did not buy this at all. I smelled scam and danger, but I wanted to see how far this "play" would go on.
When Chelsea and her assistant (was this Stuart Leibowitz?) realized none of this was going to happen with me, and I demanded to see ID used to receive wired money, she stated there had been a large fire that killed several and took all her belongings. The receipt she did send to get wired money did not show a Chelsea Ford signature, not even remotely. I confronted her about this, and she just claimed it was hers. She knew she was caught in a lie and proven for it. Her Ghana health card from NHIS was fake, again, using a photo of Ann Angel. She said she had gone to renew her passport. The US embassy there said she did not tell the truth, yet, she showed me her new passport. This time, the photo used was not Nikki Sims, as in the first one, but Ann Angel! Totally different people. The embassy confirmed it was fake.
By the fourth week, she was frustrated with me. She thought I may be playing her, which I was, just out of curiosity. She got angry and at times, sounded like a guy talking, when I refused to send money. She would call me names. All the affectionate words were gone. Money requests were direct or pleas using the guilt card. She threatened to cutoff communications. She wanted me to send $500 so she could rent a four bedroom house there. The house was being sold for $320,000 and she claimed the agent said she could have the house for $400 per year as a rental. I showed her the house on the website and told her it makes no sense. She had no answer but to want that house. She would always try to soften me up when money was requested with another nice photo of Ann Angel.
Once I found out that the photos she had sent were of Ann Angel's catalog, I confronted her her. That is when she said she used Ann Angel as an alias, LOL. This scammer was a pro. Had a reasonable reason for any money request. Probably was from Ghana. Maybe she was a he all along, too many mirrors to know. Her backstory was thorough. Believable for the most part. She lived in Ocala, FL., for awhile with her last boyfriend for awhile until something happened with him. That something might be a real estate wire fraud bust in 2006 where he was arrested and owed Chelsea several years of stolen money. She had nothing but bad feelings for her last boyfriend (after her fiancé had died of cancer).
Once it ended, I was out a few hundred, I had learned a lot. I think Chelsea mixed truth with fiction at times, the problem was, sifting all this out was just impossible. She might be real but looks far different than her portrayal, or, not exist at all. Hope you learn from my experience. If you suspect fraud, save the image of the person and use either Tin Eye or images.google.com. If the photo has been used before, you will know who and the address.