Bad Girl Gone GoodBy: N. Franko
Bill: Where were you tonight? I waited for an hour
Nicole: I’m sorry, baby. My car broke down and I didn’t have my phone to call you.
Bill: Is everything all right?
Nicole: I’m ok, but I’m not sure I can afford to get it fixed with all my money going to my mom’s medical bills.
This part is always the hardest. I hated lying about an illness but, it’s the only thing that really tugs on the heartstrings enough. I searched online to see how much it would cost to have an old Buick fixed. Spoiler alert, I didn’t own a Buick. Nor did I drive.
Bill: How much do you need?
Bill: I’ll transfer the money now
Within minutes, I accepted an email money transfer from Bill Hans. He was a sixty-three-year-old bachelor I met on eLove and I had him in the palm of my hand. At first, it was just a few bucks here or there, enough for a shopping trip to treat myself after a hard day of “taking care of my mom.” It didn’t take long for him to send me enough for a new phone, so he could call me. Then jewellery—which I pawned. The car breaking down was just me warming my way up to the big payout. I usually stopped when they sent me enough for a round trip to wherever they lived. I usually just took the money and deleted all my accounts, never contacting them again.
I hadn’t decided if I would stop at plane ticket money or milk this guy for “my mom’s medical bills” just yet.
Nicole: Got it. Thank you, baby. I’ll pay you back I promise.
Bill: No need my sweet, chocolate love goddess. We’ll see each other soon.
Chocolate love goddess? Seriously? I’m not sure if Bill knew how offensive that sounded. Then again, old men rarely did. Obviously, I wasn’t Nicole, nor was the woman in the stock photo I was using to pose as her. Compared to my pale, blotchy, white skin and mousy brown hair “Nicole’s” dark, smooth complexion and coiffed curly, brown hair sure made her look like a goddess.
I signed off of Nicole’s profile and checked on “Madison.” She had four new messages. Two of them were dick pics but the other two had potential. One was an older man (what is it with old guys?) divorced, with children who looked like they could be my age. The other looked like a younger guy, twenty-three, actor/model. Except there was something off about that profile.
I’ve seen that guy somewhere before.
I downloaded his picture and dropped it into my search engine. Sure enough, a bunch of profiles came up with his picture on it… and on a stock photo site. The same one I used. This guy was just like me—looking to con innocent, vulnerable people who just want love out of their money. I wondered why he picked me. What was it about Madison that looked vulnerable? I sent him a message.
Madison: Hey hottie.
Andrew: You’re the hot one ;)
Typical catfish. I should know.
Madison: Cut the crap. I know your pic is a stock photo. I don’t have money.
Andrew signed off. Gotcha. You can’t catfish a catfish. I’ve been on too many stock photo sites doing exactly what “Andrew” was doing.
Madison was something new that I was trying on. For one, the picture isn’t from a stock site. It’s me with a few minor tweaks. Okay, a few major tweaks. I’ve been learning photo editing from tutorials online and played around one night. I gave myself long, blond hair and went heavy with the makeup. I also had a nice face lift and added a few filters until I was almost unrecognizable and decided that it looked good enough to use as a persona. It was the first time I used my photo.
I was scared that it wouldn’t be attractive enough to wrangle anyone in but it looked like I was wrong. There was also the issue of being caught, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got there. I never spent too long on a dating site and always had multiple accounts. It’s not the best security system—or a security system at all—but it was the best I could do. Obviously, I wasn’t a sophisticated hacker. A petty thief with nine lives? Yes. A computer genius? Ha! I only recently found out about VPNs (totally by accident, no less).
I sent the old guy a “hey” but he was offline so I couldn’t work him. No matter. I still had Bill and I wasn’t done with him yet. I probably wouldn’t be for a few more weeks. Getting a few grand out of old, horny men takes time. I signed Madison off and closed my laptop.