Dating scams: How 'love goggles' can blind even the best of us

A successful businesswoman with a doctorate is touring the country to prove online romance scams can happen to the best of us.

Six years ago mother-of-two Jordan Alexander transferred $140,000 to a man she had never met. But it wasn't until she had travelled to Hawaii to meet the man of her dreams that her mistake finally dawned on her.

"It was finally on day five, I was sitting at the edge of a bar and sipping on a pina colada thinking, 'Oh my god Jordan, what have you done? The reality is, James isn't coming, and you're never going to see this $140,000 again."

The debacle started 26 weeks earlier when, after much encouragement from her friends, she tried her hand at online dating.

"One day I decided okay, I'm going to try and sort my personal life out. Within the first foray I had into online dating, I managed to hook up with a fella who I met on one of the dating sites. Within 26 weeks I had fallen in love."

The man, who called himself James, was actually working from a site Sri Lanka and slowly building Dr Alexander's trust.

Jordan Alexander.
Jordan Alexander. Photo credit: Supplied

"You kind of have these little niggles, but you push them aside and you rationalise things," she says.

"When I had first loaned to James, said he only needed [the money] for a week, and he actually put money back into my account after I had loaned it to him.

"He had gotten me to do some of his banking for him. He sent me flowers, I sent him flowers, so there was almost this due diligence around location and making sure he was where he said he was."

"But the reality is, once people get in love, they just get the love goggles on and they just don't think the way they should be thinking."

Dr Alexander is now touring New Zealand, holding free three-hour seminars covering everything from the neuroscience behind love, to how to write a profile that gets you noticed and spotting scammers.

She's also published a book titled I Love You, Send Money - a reality read complete with all of the emails and exchanges with James, and set up her own dating coach company called Love Assist Associates.

"After I had gone through this experience, I basically had a bit of a meltdown, financially and emotionally. I had to pick myself up and put things back together again. You just feel such shame… because there is that stigma. How could you be so stupid as to lend someone money?"

It's a timely topic, Dr Alexander says, with New Years' resolutions and the annual influx of online dating enrolments looming.

"There's absolutely no reason why if people are educated about how to go online safely, that it can't be a fabulous way to meet people."

That's exactly what she did - she's now engaged to a man she met on Tinder 18 months ago. And this one, she made sure to meet face-to-face straight away.

More information on Dr Alexander's free seminars can be found here.