Kate Roberts, 47, couldn’t believe her luck when she met hunky soldier Sgt. Mark Ray Smith online. Talking every night on the phone it wasn’t long until the pair were deeply in love – or so she thought….
Clicking to save my profile on the friends re-united dating site I smiled proudly to myself. I’d been on my own for two years and it was time to bite the bullet.
After a couple of weeks of using the site and chatting to a few friendly people, I was chuffed to open my inbox to find an email from a guy called Mark.
“Hi how are you?” It read. “I like your profile pic! Do you want to chat?”
That was where it all started.
It was the first time in ages I’d had any attention from a man and already I felt great.
Mark told me about his lonely life as a widowed US soldier. He said he’d been based in the UK for the last 3 years and was serving his final tour in Iraq.
He sadly explained that since his wife died his world revolved around his adorable 11 year old daughter.
Since my divorce I too had battled the stress of being a single parent to my three kids and knew how lonely it could be.
About a month after our first exchange Mark said he’d love to hear my voice and suggested we start phoning each other.
I was ecstatic. He explained how he couldn’t access his account while he was in Iraq and it would cost £225 to set up the line.
It seemed like a lot of money but it made perfect sense that he wouldn’t have had access to his bank.
I paid the money for him and soon we were spending every night talking for hours on the phone.
As our relationship began to blossom, all my past insecurities seemed to fade away.
“You’re beautiful” he told me, “I can’t believe we’ve found each other.
With Mark nothing else seemed to matter.
He was on his last tour in the army so once it was over he was free to come home to the UK and then we could be together for real.
He asked me to put a request in for his leave and I jumped at the chance to get him home early. But to do this I had to write to a Colonel Brad Anderson.
He explained how it might be a slow process because they had strict rules about allowing soldiers leave.
The responses from the Colonel were very official and backed up with Military documents.
Each document needed completing for Mark’s leave process and each one had a fee that needed to be paid.
While I felt apprehensive about the amount of money that had started to tally up, Mark put me at ease and promised he would pay back every penny.
He was the soul mate I’d never had and I’d do anything to get the man of my dreams back safely.
The payments for the documents soon began to vary.
Sometimes they’d be around £2,000, other times up to wooping £7,000.
With my own money starting to run out, I began borrowing from family and friends.
They knew how happy I was with Mark but at the same time they’d tell me I was stupid to be paying all this money.
But I didn’t care, he was worth every penny.
Finally the day arrived for him to leave camp.
But his request was rejected.
“Everything’s gone wrong Kate!” he cried to me down the phone.
A couple of weeks later Mark told me how his commander was prepared to help us by getting him out of camp illegally.
But this time it would cost £12,000. It was a huge amount of money and illegal but I didn’t care, I loved Mark and I just wanted to be with him and I knew how desperate he was to be with me.
Then suddenly the calls stopped.
A week went by and my stomach churned with fear.
I decided to drive down to his base in Cambridgeshire.
Arriving at the base, I rushed to the front gates and asked the officer if they knew about Mark as I held his picture up to him.
“I’m afraid we’ve got no record of a Sgt Mark Ray Smith here,” he told me. “I don’t recognize him from his picture either.”
It couldn’t be true.
This was definitely the right base. He’d talked about it so many times.
After that day I never heard from Mark again.
It was all just a con.
A sick, twisted scam to get my money.
Over time I’d given Mark a total of £80,000.
Every last penny I had was gone.
I had to sell my house and start renting to pay off all the debts. My credit ratings are so high that I can’t get any more money from the bank.
But the worst part wasn’t losing all my money, it was losing the love of my life.
I still have no idea who Mark really is, or if those pictures were even of him.
I am now just a victim of a cold hearted scam that’s left me penniless and broken hearted.