A reformed catfisher who stole $30,000 from four vulnerable women has revealed what victims need to watch out for and why he left his life of crime behind.
Christopher Maxwell, 34, from Nigeria, spent six years lying to women in order to fleece them out of thousands of dollars.
He targeted single women in the United States who were aged in their 50s and 60s, and told them he was a member of the US Army.
It wasn’t until he conned a woman out of $20,000, causing her family to fall apart and her to spiral into depression, that he suddenly felt the urge to come clean and change his ways.
‘I told them I wasn’t allowed to do video calls because I was in the army and we weren’t allowed to show where we were,’ Mr Maxwell told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Maxwell said his descent into the scamming world began when he was studying at university, admitting he struggled coping with the change of leaving home, so much that he couldn’t always afford food.
Christopher Maxwell, 34, from Nigeria, spent six years lying to women in order to fleece them out of thousands of dollars. He now works for Social Catfish and helps potential victims know when they’re going to be scammed
‘My first year was kind of rough and by the second year I had saved a stranger’s picture from Instagram onto my phone and started texting middle aged women who I met on Tinder,’ he said.
HOW TO AVOID A CATFISHER
Never give money to anyone you meet online
Perform a reverse image search to see if their picture matches their name
Demand a video chat or an in-person date
Watch out for poor grammar
Be suspicious when someone confesses their love immediately having never met you
Source: Social Catfish
The women were often divorced and had kids who had grown up and left home, making them vulnerable and easy targets for scammers.
‘They just wanted a man to love them for the rest of their life,’ Mr Maxwell said.
One of his tricks was to tell the women he was about to be deployed overseas and wouldn’t have access to his bank account.
He would instead ask his victims to send him money into a separate account, with Mr Maxwell saying at first it was a couple of hundred dollars, but ended in him fleecing them out of thousands.
Of the four women he scammed, the relationships all eventually came to an end when Mr Maxwell’s lies caught up with him.
His final victim was in 2021 – an American woman whom he scammed $20,000 out of before she called him out and refused to send him anymore money.
‘At some point she became depressed, and her kids stopped talking to her because of me,’ he said.
‘I started feeling this guilty conscious and I called her on video call and told her I’d been scamming her.
‘She cried. I thought she was going to block me because what I did was very wrong but she didn’t.’
Mr Maxwell said he told her he would promise to pay her back but she refused.
He is yet to pay any of his victims back but insists he will once he’s made enough money.
Australians lost a mammoth $324million to online scammers in 2021 (stock image)
‘I regret doing it,’ he said.
‘I never had feelings for any of the women and I didn’t feel remorse until I met my last victim.’
He said his family didn’t know he’d been scamming women, adding that when his victims asked about his Nigerian accent, Mr Maxwell said he’d moved around a lot when he was a boy as his father had also worked in the military.
Mr Maxwell now works for Social Catfish, a company dedicated to preventing online scams through reverse search technology.
It comes after Australians lost a mammoth $324million to online scammers in 2021.
This was up from the $176million lost the year prior.
The highest number of Aussies scammed between 2019 and 2022 were those living in Canberra, followed by those in the Northern Territory, according to a recent study by Social Catfish.
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