Becky Holmes is a big deal online.
Hugh Jackman has invited her to dinner. Prince William has told her she has “such a beautiful name.” Once, Ricky Gervais simply needed her photos (“I want you to take a snap of yourself and then send it to me on here…Send it to me on here!” he messaged on Twitter), and even Tom Cruise slipped into her DMs (though he was a tad boring, twice asking about her health and more often showing a core misunderstanding of grammar).
Becky has played it cool, mostly, but there’s no denying the “One That Got Away”—Official Keanu Reeves.
After repeatedly speaking to Becky online, convincing her to download the Cash app, and even promising to send her $20,000 (which Becky said she could use for a new tea towel), Official Keanu Reeves had a change of heart earlier this year: “I hate you,” he said. “We are not in any damn relationship.”
Official Keanu Reeves, of course, is not Keanu Reeves. And hughjackman373—as he labeled himself on Twitter—is not really Hugh Jackman. Neither is “Prince William,” or “Ricky Gervais,” or “Tom Cruise.” All of these “celebrities” online are fake, and that isn’t commentary on celebrity culture. It’s simply a fact, because all of the personas online who have reached out to Becky Holmes are romance scammers.
Romance scams are serious crimes that follow similar plots.
Online, an attractive stranger or celebrity—coupled with an appealing profile picture—will send a message to a complete stranger, often on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. They will flood the stranger with affectionate messages and promises of a perfect life together, sometimes building trust and emotional connection for weeks or even months. As time continues, they will also try to remove the conversation away from the social media platform where it started, instead moving it to WhatsApp, Telegram, Messages, or simple text.
Here, the scam has already started. Away from the major social media and networking platforms, the scammers persistent messages cannot be flagged for abuse or harassment, and the scammer is free to press on. Once an emotional connection is built, the scammer will suddenly be in trouble, and the best way out, is money—the victim’s money.
These crimes target vulnerable people, like recently divorced individuals, widows, and the elderly. But when these same scammers reach out to Becky Holmes, Becky Holmes turns the tables.
Becky once tricked a scammer into thinking she was visiting him in the far-off Antarctic. She has led one to believe that she had accidentally murdered someone and she needed help hiding the body. She has given fake, lewd addresses, wasted their time, and even shut them down when she can by coordinating with local law enforcement.
And today on the Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, Becky Holmes returns to talk about romance scammer “education” and the potential involvement in pyramid schemes, a disappointing lack of government response to protect victims, and the threat of Twitter removing its block function, along with some of the most recent romance scams that Becky has encountered online.
“There’s suddenly been this kind of influx of Elons. Absolutely tons of those have come about… I think I get probably at least one, maybe two a day.”
Tune in today.
Show notes and credits:
Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (unminus.com)