Our Voices The Orinam Blog

Ravi’s encounter with the Romance Scam

Ravi (name changed) is a gay man in Chennai, who lost a huge sum of money in Dec 2020-Jan 2021 through the Boyfriend Romance scam that Vinay Chandran has written about here. Read Ravi’s story below:


I met this person on Grindr on Nov 30. He introduced himself as Dr. Smith Christopher. After  chatting on Grindr for a while we moved to WhatsApp. He said he is a radiologist at a hospital in the US.

It started out as a casual chat and flirtation, nothing serious. We didn’t speak much at first… just about his work. Most of the images he shared had him with a stethoscope and mostly in scrubs.
I believed that he is a doctor. He didn’t speak much about hospital stuff except generic comment such as “my day was hectic”.

One day he informed about a hospital party and sent me a photo of a group of people in doctors coats, along with him in the center.

When I asked him like whether he is a Resident or Attending, he said he was a senior staff there.  I told him that I was applying for my graduation in US and all that stuff was getting a bit personal and close. 

Whenever he talked about his travel plans, I asked about covid protocols and he would say he is aware and when I say to him about travel restrictions he said this very confusing thing “We doctors are not included with that…we do travel with special flight”.

Once he  asked me about my financial status and I told him that it is pretty shaky, and then he was like “I will take care of you”,  and said he is paid this much and stuff…

A few rounds of discussion later, he said his birthday was coming up on Dec 30, 2020, and that he would like to spend it here with me in India. I explicitly told him not to. But he said he had some vacation days coming up, and that he could use that to travel. On Dec 15, he said he got his vacation approved and it start on the 17th  will last for a month. His exact words were “It will last for one month but I can only spend two weeks or more with you”.

Then on the morning of Dec 19, he messaged that he would be starting for India the same Saturday 04:25pm US Time. On Dec 21, he said he had reached the International Airport in Delhi, and would take the next flight to Chennai after some security check. Within the next few mins I got a call from an India number. The woman at the other end said she was from the Airport Authority, and asked me to confirm his arrival details. She said that he has brought in a lot of cash  (around USD 375,000) with him which cannot be allowed , and he needs to pay a fine of INR 48,500 as fine

 [21/12/20, 9:42:37 AM] Smith Chris Texas: I don’t have money in my account any more, I withdrew all while coming and they have seized my luggage

.She said they have ceased the entire amount and I should pay the amount. She gave me an account by the name of Arjun Verma in  Bank of Baroda and I transferred that. After sometime she called me again saying they need to create some certificate for money transfer, and I should pay INR 300,000 to process it. Then she called me and said there might be further questions so we can transfer it to some account and asked for my account. They said they have spoken with the Reserve Bank of India and they are okay to transfer the amount. I gave my account details as well.

Then they said the amount is entirely in US Dollars and needs to be converted to INR before transaction, and asked me to pay around INR 400,000. So by end of day I had paid INR 783,500 split across three accounts. (Bank of Baroda, PNB and IndusInd Bank). They said they would not be able to release him that day and that he would need to tay in airport itself. All these were informed by the lady on 21st December.

The next morning the woman called me and said I needed to pay around some INR 700,000 for tax related items and No Objection Certificates (NOC). I asked him for proof in the form of receipts for payment and he kept saying the authorities would not provide it to him until the process is done. I managed to get some personal loans and paid the amount.

Then they asked for some more money for more NOCs which cost around INR 400,000. I paid that amount over next few days, all to the same three accounts. By end of the third day, they said he was not doing well health-wise, and had developed a fever.

On Dec 23 the woman said she had given him some tablets and ask him to rest. She added that she would be processing his release.  She added that once the NOC was ready, they would go to the bank and  transfer the funds.  Then they called me again asking me to pay a fine of INR 603,000. I didn’t have the money and paid it the next day.

Whenever I asked him to get money from his friends in US, he said “if they know I might lose my job”.  All this time the woman was pressuring me saying this is the last amount and they will release him as soon as possible by Dec 24th because from Dec 25 onwards, the banks will be closed for Christmas.

By Dec 24, when I paid up the amount that had, by then, become INR 900,000,   she said he has been suffering from fever for two days and they get some medical tests done.  She asked me to pay up INR 120,000 and assured me that once the results were out they would go to the bank to sign some documents on Monday, Dec 28,  and he would be free to travel to Chennai.

When I called the woman on Monday, she did not pick up until late that day. In the meanwhile he (Smith) informed me that he needed to pay for the injections that they have been giving him. I called the woman again about it and she said  I need to pay INR 400,000  for that.  She said that he would be in quarantine for a week, and added that she and her team were also in quarantine as they were working with him.

On Wednesday Dec 30, they called me saying the treatment bills needed to be paid and the default cost is INR 580,000, following which the medical team would clear him. So I made that payment on Dec 31st. The woman once again said they will go to the bank on Jan 1, 2021, and complete the procedures.

On Jan 1, the woman said that he is quarantine was done, but as some dates on the paperwork were erroneously mentioned as 2020 and it was  2021, they needed to redo some paperwork, which required INR 375,000. I paid that as well. The next I heard from her was that the signing authority hds gone home early and they couldn’t complete the procedure, so they postponed it to the next day. The next day (Jan 2),  by late afternoon,  she said that the amount needs to insured to be transferred and that I need to pay another INR 200,000. I paid that as well and they pushed It to Monday Jan 4.

On Monday, she reported that  they once again went to bank and signed some documents. By 11:30 she said the procedures in bank was over and the money has been successfully transferred and it will be credited within 24 hrs.

After sometime she called to say that  nother amount of INR 345,000 needs to be paid as airport charges, which I paid the next day.

Then they said that the account needs to be upgraded and needs a refundable deposit of  INR 180,000 which I paid on Wednesday.

By Thursday Jan 7 they said the MOF has blocked the fund transfer and that I need to pay INR 485,000 to get clearance from the Mnistry of Finance. I paid that on Friday and the lady once again said everything is over and that he would be free to go by Saturday Jan 9 morning. She added that she was going on leave.

Smith then messaged me that we need to pay another INR 520,000 for the clearance.

He has not provided me with any documentation or  bills and is not ready to talk with embassy people either.

I have thus far, paid close to INR 52,00,000, by taking personal loans. 

I am not ready to pay anymore.

 


If you have read Ravi’s piece, please check out Vinay Chandran’s article on the scam here.
Reach out to Swabhava (Bangalore) or Orinam (Chennai) at the contact information provided therein.

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