One night a young Palestinian man living abroad fell victim to an online scam, involving a web camera and a beautiful woman. Here Samir (not his real name) tells the story of how he was trapped – and below the BBC’s Reda el Mawy visits the Moroccan boomtown where many of the scammers are based.
WARNING: this story contains descriptions of sexual acts
It happened when I was home alone. This girl added me on Facebook. I didn’t think it was anything strange – I often get friend requests from old school friends who I don’t know well.
The next day she sends me a message: “Hi, how are you? I saw your profile and I liked you.” So I looked at her profile and, I mean, she was really hot.
That night she starts messaging me via Skype. She says she’s 23, her parents are dead, and she lives with her older sister in Sidon, Lebanon. She says she’s bored because she doesn’t study or work and that her sister is very strict. I ask her about her hobbies and she says she likes sex. She loves it, she says.
“Hmm,” I thought, “this is interesting.” At this point I am curious but unsure, because it’s strange how easily she’s talking about sex with a stranger. But I was bored, my girlfriend was out of town, and didn’t have anything to do. So I figured, “What the hell, I’ll chat with this girl and see where it goes.”
Eventually she asks if I have a webcam. So I turn on my video and say, “Can I see you too?” She turns on her video and when I see her, you know, she is a really beautiful girl. With a girl like this, you lose your head.
We continue chatting, but only in messages, not actually speaking. She says she’s afraid her sister will hear her. As we’re chatting she tells me that talking with me is turning her on. I’m thinking because she lives with her strict sister, in the south of Lebanon rather than in a more open place like Beirut, maybe she’s frustrated and looks for sexual encounters online.