Brenda Parke, a flight attendant from Sussex, England, joined Match.com last December and started chatting to a "successful Dutch businessman" by the name of Bradford Broad Cole (Is it just us, or is that name an immediate red flag? And it's definitely not Dutch.) over emails and phone calls.
While Cole didn't ask Parke for money directly, he did recount some sob story about his young daughter being injured in a hit and run and needing surgery and told how he was widowed, estranged from family and friends and already maxed out on bank loans. Having successfully guilt-tripped Parke into paying for the "operation," Cole then worked his magic to get her to fork over even more cash for his "business expenses." When he never showed at Birmingham Airport, where they were meant to meet up so he could repay the loans, Parke realized she'd been duped.
And we thought the fact that we always pick up the beer tab was bad.
So, is Parke the dumbest person ever or a victim of "romance fraud"? Speaking to the Daily Mail
, she admitted, "I am fully aware how utterly stupid I have been and appreciate there is little, if any, chance to get my money back. However, I have always considered myself to be a bright and intelligent woman. If I could be manipulated and reduced to 'a puppet on a string' because of this man's subtlety and supposed sincerity, then there are millions of vulnerable people out there just waiting to be abused by a very professional and consummate actor. It is so cunning and amazingly well done that I am reeling with shock at my own vulnerability. I urge dating sites to take far more responsibility for who they allow to advertise on their websites."
Parke is now spreading the word about "romance fraud" online, and according the Mail, police believe that Brits are losing tens of millions of pounds as a result of scams by con men targeting the emotionally vulnerable online. So, if you're a fraudster in need of a quick financial fix, you know where to go. We wonder what those smug eHarmony users will say about this.