A witty Twitter user managed to make a scammer regret contacting her by convincing him she'd set out on a dangerous mission to meet him after he asked for money.
"Hi, becky, how are you doing today? Happy weekend." That was the first message Becky Holmes received from her 'one true love', oil rig worker Zeltinis, earlier this month. Before long, she learned he needed a fee of $3,200 (£2,800) to 'pay for his vacation' from the oil rig.
"I could have pay for it but my account is suspended I have to get home before it can be fix, what do you think? [sic]," Zeltinis wrote.
A lot of people will probably be familiar with messages like these, and so is Becky. But rather than deleting Zeltinis and moving on, Becky decided to play along.
However, rather than handing over the money to fund Zeltinis' alleged trip, Becky decided to tell Zeltinis she'd come and visit him instead, leading to an exchange in which she detailed a journey across oceans.
"I have decided to come to your oil rig myself and so I've hired a boat," Becky wrote.
In response, Zeltinis wrote: "Why risk your life, please you can't... here you are not allowed to visit the rig. The location I'm in the high sea is miles away from land it will take a Helicopter 1 and a half day. Try your best if you can get the fee when I get home I will pay you back love you."
Becky, however, wouldn't be deterred. She sent Zeltinis pictures of herself on her 'trip', proving to him she was on a boat, and later taking to the skies after learning she could 'only get to [him] by helicopter'.
Panicked, Zeltinis continued his efforts to stop Becky. In further updates, accompanied by pictures, she claimed her helicopter had crashed and that she was now trying to 'survive' in the snow, just 'half an hour away from having to eat the helicopter pilot'.
I should stress, Becky was never actually in any of these situations. All of the images were taken from a trip to Iceland she'd been on earlier this year – she just knew they might come in handy.
Desperate not to lose his beloved, or his chance of getting his hands on £3,000, Zeltinis asked Becky when she would get home.
"I don't know," she replied. "I hate to ask but... Any chance of borrowing a tenner so I can get a bus?"
I imagine it's far from the exchange Zeltinis expected when he first reached out asking for money, but after two years of similar exchanges, Becky is an expert in handling scammers.
The 43-year-old uses her Twitter account to help tackle the issue of romance scamming by sharing her conversations and raising awareness; something which has prompted other people affected by scams to reach out and share their stories.
Remembering the first time she tricked a scammer, Becky told LADbible: "I joined Twitter purely out of boredom. And I immediately was inundated with DMs from impossibly handsome men, all claiming that they were surgeons or soldiers or oil rig workers or whatever. And they were immediately in love with me, which was really lovely.
"I was just deleting them and blocking them... And then... [with] one of them, I thought, You know what, I'm sick of you. You've messaged me a few times. And I thought I'm fed up with you. I don't like you. And I'm just going to waste as much of your time as I possibly can."
Becky's conversations often come to an end with the scammer blocking her, realising they're not going to get any money, or with their accounts getting blocked by other people reporting them. She's had messages from "Keanu Reeves" asking for iTunes vouchers, and "Brad Pitt" asking for Amazon vouchers, and can't help but respond. It would be rude to ignore a celebrity, after all.
The author admitted that by engaging with the scammers she's opened herself up to having her details shared with other scammers, but it's paid off in the awareness she's raised for the issue.
"You get people contacting you saying 'I was going to send money' or sometimes people say, 'my friend was being scammed, but I showed them what you've been doing and now they've realised what's happening'," Becky explained. "When you hear stuff like that, it feels really really good because it does mean that you have saved somebody money, but also saved somebody that kind of shame and embarrassment that goes with that kind of crime."
In sharing her conversations online, Becky has gained the attention of comedians such as Dawn French and Dara O'Brien, and has even earned herself a book deal with her upcoming book, Keanu Reeves Is Not In Love With You. With it she hopes to educate people about romance fraud, while also entertaining them with her own tales.
As for Zeltinis, well, he's probably still stuck on his oil rig.Featured Image Credit: @deathtospinach/Twitter