When it comes to love, it knows no boundaries. For most, it is unconditional, and going to the ends of the earth for your respective partner is not a question.
How Far Would You Go for the One You Loved?
For one Swedish woman, she would face the ultimate test when her new lover’s son was brutally mugged.
Could she sacrifice her financial security for a budding romance, and a young man in need?
The Divorce and New Possibilities
For Maria Grette, divorce never crossed her mind. Unfortunately, at the age of 62, her marriage fell apart in the most traumatic of fashions. Alone, and wondering if she would ever find love again, Maria tried to focus her energy on a career as an art teacher.
She also took up painting and worked as a part-time therapist. However, despite the distractions, Maria still longed for companionship
Adventures in Online Dating
Not having luck meeting a man in her daily travels, Maria decided to take the plunge and enter the world of online dating. While she had closed off herself to the possibility of ever loving again, something deep inside urged Maria to give it one last shot.
After a few of her girlfriends assisted with setting up a profile, all Maria could do was wait and see.
Would anyone give Maria a second shot at happiness?
Catching Her Eye
Messages began to pour into her inbox almost immediately, but an apprehensive Maria decided not to look at them. However, after a week or two, she had a strong urge to finally check them out to see what types of men were responding to her profile.
What would she find?
One Single Message Sorting through her plethora of messages, Maria noticed one message that stood out from the pack. It was well-written and definitely matched most of what she was looking for. Could this be the man of her dreams?
A Budding Romance Begins
The message was from a Danish man named Johnny who had grown up in South Carolina and was working as a civil engineer in England. At 58-years-old, he was a widower looking for love in all the wrong places.
Maria was intrigued by his story, learning about his son who lived in Manchester and his decision to retire in Sweden.
For Maria, it all seemed too good to be true!
Making Plans for the Future
As time passed, the conversations between Maria and Johnny progressed to phone calls. Maria knew she was beginning to fall for the man she had yet to meet in person, and they both decided it was time to make plans to meet and see where their relationship could go.
But first, Johnny needed to take a short trip to Nigeria with his son. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.
One Fateful Call from Nigeria
Maria was excited about the prospect of meeting Johnny and his son, but sadly she received a phone call that would shatter her entire world.
Calling from a hospital in Largos, Nigeria, Johnny told Maria they had been viciously mugged. With Nick in critical condition and no bank branches in Africa, Johnny couldn’t pay for his treatment.
A Mugging Gone Wrong
Maria was devastated. She had true feelings for this man and was already beginning to think of herself as a future stepmother.
The thought of Nick lying helpless in a strange country was almost too much for her heart to handle. Could Maria be Nick’s light at the end of a dark tunnel?
You’re My Only Hope
“Honey, I am happy to hear from you and I am still at the hospital,” Johnny told Maria over the phone.
“The doctor said we were lucky we were not kidnapped. The bank does not have a location in Africa, so it will take time to get money and the management are requesting 1000 euros to proceed with treatment. Nick is all I have got and I will not forgive myself if anything happens to him. I am confused, and I do not know where to turn at the moment…”
According to Maria, she knew what she had to do…
Transferring Money in the Name of Love
Realizing it could take days for a proper bank transfer to go through, Maria decided that she would help Johnny so Nick’s treatment could begin immediately. Rushing to the local Western Union, Maria transferred 1,000 euros to Johnny’s account in Nigeria.
Praying the money would be enough to save his son, Maria waited with bated breath for an update from Johnny.
Something is Definitely Not Right
Unfortunately, there were complications with Nick’s treatment and the hospital demanded more money to continue his procedures.
After transferring thousands of dollars, Maria began to think something was off about the entire situation.
Is it possible Johnny wasn’t who she believed him to be?
More Funds Needed
Despite her doubts, Maria didn’t want to second-guess the man she loved. As more requests for money came in, Maria continued to withdraw funds.
Sadly, as the stories continued to change…Maria came to know the hard truth.
A Complete and Utter Scam
Sadly, much to Maria’s dismay, she came to the realization that she had fallen for an elaborate scam. Johnny continued to send her messages her regarding funds, but she was heartbroken and ignored his calls.
It would be almost a month later when one phone call would change her perception of everything.
Months Later…the Confession
On the other end of the phone was a 24-year-old Nigerian man who admitted to making up the “Johnny” persona and scamming her out of thousands. Of course, Maria already knew this, but something about his story touched her heart.
Not only was he apologetic, but he admitted he only turned to such shady practices because he didn’t have enough money to attend a university. Could Maria find it in her heart to forgive him?
Meeting in Nigeria
Despite being scammed, both Maria and the young Nigerian man confessed the connection they had was very real. Maria had the strong desire to meet him and decided to fly to Nigeria.
Even though he had wronged her in so many ways, Maria knew this was something she simply had to do.
Grounded in Reality
“I could not live with this relationship unless it was adjusted to reality in all senses,” Maria revealed. She wanted any friendship moving forward to be based on the truth, not a made-up backstory.
Therefore, she flew to Nigeria with the hope of some good coming from all of the deception and lies.
The Moment of Truth
According to Maria when she met him at the airport, he was in tears. She knew at that moment, this was all meant to be.
“When I saw him at the airport in Abuja, tears fell over his face, and I knew I had known him all my life.” However, it’s what happened next that will really astound you.
Opening Her Eyes
While on her trip, Maria and “Johnny” developed a very strong bond. He even introduced her to other scammers he knew. The entire trip opened up Maria’s eyes to the scamming trap these young men fell into and how it destroyed their lives.
It inspired Maria to want to help. She couldn’t stand by while healthy young men fell into such a scheme.
How Can I Help?
“I asked myself what I could do to prevent a situation where healthy, good young men fall into this trap,” Maria revealed to the local media.
Therefore, she set her sights on making a difference in these men’s lives.
A New Beginning
It would take several years, but Marie would go on to develop a program for young African artists. The program helps these artists achieve international funding, education, as well as grants.
According to Maria, Johnny gave her more than he ever took–a new lease on life.
Expanding Her Horizons
At the age of 69, Maria found her small world opening up more than she could have ever imagined. Regardless of the scams and the lies that started her relationship with Johnny…now it was so much more.
“Johnny has given me more than he took,” Maria said, “Without him, I would not have met Africa…”
You’ve Got a Friend in Me
One of the greatest gifts Maria could ever give to Johnny was helping him get to the United States so he could enroll at an American University.
She even helped him financially until he graduated and obtained a job in the oil sector.
For Maria and Johnny, they had become friends for life.
Moving Forward Through Forgiveness
Today, Maria and Johnny are still close friends, even though they don’t get a chance to see each other that often. However, they do update one another on a regular basis.
“He is very dear to me,” Maria said. “He has asked me so many times to forgive him and I told him that the most important thing is to forgive himself.”
Love Conquers All
For Maria, the entire experience has been filled with ups and downs. There was anger, heartbreak, and betrayal, but there was also so much love, forgiveness and new friendships forged.
In the end, she gained so much more than she initially lost. Love truly does conquer all. We wish Johnny and Maria a long friendship.