ASK Musings

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March 2024



Keanu Reeves is not in Love with You by Becky Holmes

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

4 Stars

Best for:
Anyone interested in the world of romance fraud, as well as anyone who likes a lot of humour in their non-fiction books. Oooh, also anyone who gets some satisfaction out of people who dick around with said fraudsters.

In a nutshell:
Author Holmes gets a lot of clearly fake requests on social media, and so decides to play along, wasting the time of fraudsters while also investigating what makes them tick – and how anyone can be victimized by them.

Worth quoting:
“It always annoys me when people just write off the victims of romance fraud as being stupid. I’ve interviewed between thirty and forty victims, and not a single one was stupid…”

“…what I also find interesting is the difference in language used when talking about male and female victims of scamming … the blame shifts and seems to land squarely on the woman, whether she is the scammed or the scammer.”

“We need to stop referring to people as ‘falling for’ a scam. We don’t say someone ‘fell for a burglary’ or ‘fell for an assault.’ Romance fraud is not something that people ‘fall for’; it is something that happens to them.”

Why I chose it:
I mean it’s a great title. I too was once messaged by Keanu Reeves on Instagram. Sadly, nothing came of it.

What an interesting and – despite the serious subject matter – funny book.

Author Holmes decides to join various social media platforms, and, like many women, is immediately bombarded with messages from men of … dubious origin. But instead of blocking and ignoring, she decides to engage with them, wasting their time (and hopefully tying up at least some of the time they could be using to scam others) in all manner of ridiculous texts and photo exchanges.

The book definitely includes discussion about people pretending to be celebrities as the title suggests, but thats just the focus of one chapter. It’s a much broader look at online romance fraud, and Holmes does a great job making the subject accessible and really digging deep into how it can happen, but sharing stories of people who have been scammed. She also explores some of the biggest groups of scammers – spending a lot of time on Yahoo Boys, which was a group I’d never heard of, and which I was concerned might be a bit sensationalized as they are located in Nigeria (and lots of people have some racist assumptions about Nigerians and scams), but they are indeed a real thing.

Much of the book includes excerpts of Holmes’s interactions with scammers, which are both hilarious to read and also deeply disturbing, as one can see how these scammers really try to ingratiate themselves into the lives of the people who they fleece. It’s distressing and it really sucks for those who are victimized by them.

One area Holmes really focuses on – and which I call out in the quote I share above – is how judgmental people are when it comes to romance fraud. Frankly I hate that for people – much like I hate pranks. I realize they come from very different places, but in the end the joke (or crime) is ‘ha ha, you believe in people, you idiot.’ Of course it is easy to see red flags in hindsight, or when one is in a totally calm, stable, non-traumatic point in their life. But people aren’t always in the perfect place – sometimes people are sad, or lonely, or have just come out of an abusive relationships. And it sucks that people are not only harmed by the people stealing their money and tricking them into thinking they are in love, but also by their friends, family, and society with their judgment.

She also spends time looking at how little support there is for the victims of this fraud. There is ‘Action Fraud,’ which is where the police refer people in the UK (where the author lives), but they sound both under-resourced and ineffective. Police don’t investigate, banks don’t really care, and family members judge. It stinks.

Overall, I think this is a good book for anyone (including those who thing they are ‘too smart’ to ‘fall for’ any such scams), both because it is well written but also because I learned quite a few things and it helped me remind myself about the need for empathy for people whose main ‘fault’ is trusting others.

What’s next for this book:
Keep, maybe pick up a copy for friends who might find this interesting.

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