loading
drag

I was defrauded by a con artist, here’s how I emotionally recovered

WORDS BY LEAH HULST

“I was now stuck on the other side of the world with no money and my bank refused to pay me back, claiming that I was the fraudulent one.”

At the age of 21 years old, I bought a one-way ticket to Europe. The trip of a lifetime with amazing adventures booked and I was ready to see what the world had to offer. After landing in Holland and spending time with family, the second stop on my trip was at a party hostel in Barcelona, which had been recommended to me by friends.

As soon as I stepped through the doors, I felt an instant warmth and connection with the staff and guests. Everyone there was so welcoming and kind, and I sparked an immediate friendship with one man in particular: Eduardo*.


Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.


We quickly became best friends, spending every drunken night together, debriefing the next morning about what we got up to, laughing and constantly by each other’s side. He was charismatic and everybody loved being in his presence. He was a little older than me yet wanted to backpack through Europe and live a carefree life, which he hadn’t experienced growing up in Bosnia.

Eduardo told me that he had a wealthy family, and had an extensive and successful career, leaving it all behind to live a life that prioritised fun. Money was not an issue for him, so he would always offer to pay for things for me. I would constantly refuse, but he would always insist on paying. I was the poor backpacker; he did not have to worry about money.

After leaving Barcelona, we travelled through several other countries together. We made new friends, would go out for lavish dinners and swim in the beautiful beaches every day. I truly felt like I was living the backpacker’s dream.

There was one night when Eduardo went out for a date and said he would meet me back at a restaurant in about an hour’s time. After waiting for close to two hours, I began to panic, and my gut told me something was wrong. I ran back to our accommodation and checked my wallet and passport.

Everything was still there, yet something still didn’t feel right. I started to have night terrors, and bouts of anxiety, but I pushed it all down. I told myself I didn’t have to worry. I shouldn’t judge – I need to be the open-minded traveller that I set out to be.

After a few more weeks together, we parted ways as I was off to Bristol to meet some friends. We had a teary goodbye and vowed to meet up again later that month. When I arrived at the airport, I tried to get cash out of the ATM, but my card declined. Luckily, I had enough money for the cab, so I figured I would sort everything out when I was settled at my mate’s house.

Later that night, I logged into my bank account and the balance read $0. In a panic, I messaged Eduardo. He reassured me that it was most likely a banking error, and to sort it out in the morning. When I woke the next morning and logged online, Eduardo’s Facebook account had been deleted. That’s when everything started to fall apart around me.

I trawled through my account history and realised that he was using my bank card behind my back, taking money out and paying for everything on my cards. He had stolen over $10,000 from me, all without me knowing. I was now stuck on the other side of the world with no money and my bank refused to pay me back, claiming that I was the fraudulent one.

Not only did he leave me without any money, but with severe trauma, anxiety and shame about being so gullible. Although my story may be extreme, bank fraud is incredibly common. You may have accidentally given your bank details to a dodgy Instagram account, or even sent money to a scam overseas. No matter how big or small, the emotional toll it can take on you can be detrimental to your life, and your financial future.

Talk to someone

The experience that I had has taught me a lot, but the main thing is that being exposed to fraud or being conned does not define you or dictate your future. It’s important to talk about what happened to you, so you do not carry the weight with you. Seeking professional help from a psychologist has really helped me move forward and allowed me to heal emotionally.

Educate yourself

It’s also incredibly powerful to educate yourself on money. I’ve personally found that arming myself with the knowledge of how money works has allowed me to feel comfortable spending and receiving my money again. Listening to podcasts such as She’s On The Money and reading The Barefoot Investor has empowered me to see cash flow as a positive, rather than a negative.

Research who you bank with

It is so hard to find a reliable bank, especially one that aligns with your values and morals. If you are travelling or not, be sure to check out your bank’s fraud cover. There is so much psychological baggage that comes with money, and when you are faced with fraud, it can compound and affect you in a variety of diverse ways. If you ever experience fraud, know that you aren’t alone in your experience and that there is support available should you need it.

*Name has been changed 

For more on how to protect yourself from con artists, try this.

Lazy Loading