When Brian’s mom informed him that she’d started dating again, the 17-year-old was caught off guard. “She’d dated before so I wasn’t surprised by that,” he tells me. He was, however, very surprised when she told him she was dating Eric Clapton, the man widely regarded as one of the most influential rock musicians of all time.
Suspicious, Brian asked a few follow-up questions. “I was like, ‘That doesn’t seem likely, why would a famous musician just contact you out-of-nowhere?’” he recalls. “She got offended that I was implying she wasn’t good enough for him, and she explained something about meeting him and some of his band members at a concert back in the day.”
Brian remained skeptical, and eventually came to the conclusion that this was a romance scam and that his 55-year-old mother was being catfished. “She’s lonely and doesn’t really have anyone her age to talk to anymore, and the thought of being loved is very strong,” he explains.
For over two years, Brian has tried — and failed — to convince his mom that she’s the victim of a scam. In hopes of bringing attention to the issue and hopefully helping others with loved ones in similar positions, Brian shared his story with me.
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“Eric Clapton” originally approached my mom on Facebook and showered her with compliments and romantic gestures. Soon, they moved to Google Hangouts. He’d tell her stuff like, “You’re so beautiful,” “I dream of you every night” and “One day, I’ll be done with my music career and we’ll get married,” in very broken English. But my mom bought it every step of the way.
When we’re together, my mom is on her phone messaging “Eric” at all hours of the day. She’ll laugh and say, “Oh, Eric just said something so sweet,” or “Eric is just being funny right now.” I try to prod her and ask, like, “Isn’t he 100 years old?” Or: “Isn’t he busy being a millionaire and world-famous musician?” But she just shrugs me off. She says she doesn’t care because they’re in love.
I know my mom is in deep with “Eric” because I went through her computer and all her old messages with him. It turns out, she’d not only been talking to “Eric” but with his “daughter” Ruth as well. This has gone on for two years! But worse than that, I bore witness to the fact that the relationship has progressed far enough along that she’s sent him nudes. I found them mixed in with all these excuses from “Eric” and “Ruth” explaining why they could never meet her in person.
Sometimes, too, he’ll just disappear for three or four days. She doesn’t see it as odd at all. She also claims to have video chatted with him. I told her that I bet it was some kind of video loop that they’re voicing over and that I want to talk to him next time they video chat. She hasn’t brought it up since.
Discovering the nudes was obviously embarrassing, but I decided I had to keep regular tabs on their message history since she’ll never not believe it’s Eric Clapton — but especially since she can no longer pay her bills.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve never had money to spare. We are by no means well off, and for many years, we’ve struggled to make ends meet. So when my mom told me “Ruth” needed airfare or “Eric” was on tour and needed something to eat because his credit card didn’t work, I got worried. I tried telling her that famous people wouldn’t ask her for money, and that they wouldn’t need money in the form of gift cards, but she wouldn’t buy it. Eventually, she stopped paying her own bills and has now asked me for money to help out, even though I barely make ends meet myself.
When I failed at convincing her that the gift cards proved she was being scammed, I tried other angles. I argued that Eric Clapton wouldn’t have blatant misspellings and weird grammar in his messages. After all, Eric Clapton is a world-renown lyricist. “You know his songs!” I’d tell her. But she refused to see how that had anything to do with how he messaged her, even after I showed her how similar the typing was to many reported Nigerian scammers.
It feels like the meme with Patrick and Manray where I carefully explain the situation, and she’ll follow me until I get to the conclusion that “Eric” and his daughter are scammers. At that point, I always lose her — and it makes me want to tear my hair out.
Then, one day, a package showed up with a check in it. My mom was gone, so I called the name on the return address and it went immediately to a message that — I’m not kidding — was an old woman saying, “You lose,” over and over again. It was so weird and scary that I freaked out and broke down. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
When my mom came home, I asked her if she’d been expecting a check from “Eric” and she said she was. I told her about the phone call, and that if she cashed this check, it would, at best, be money laundering and that she could get her arrested if the cops found out. She got annoyed, told me to get out of her business and asked me to leave, which I did.
Part of her must have seen the shape I was in though, because later that night I sent her some educational YouTube videos on how “money mules” work, and she responded that she’d torn up the check. Unfortunately, however, that was the last time she’s talked to me. As far as I know, she is still talking regularly with “Eric.” I have no idea what to do anymore. I just assume that one day I’ll wake up to her telling me that she has no money left.