Have you ever wondered if the person you are talking to over the internet is really who they say they are? I know I have questioned this at times. The internet has made it possible for people to live anyway they want. There is a commercial that is about how the woman believes everything on the internet. If it is there, it must be true. The internet has changed the world when it comes to health and allowing people to self-diagnose. There are positives and negatives when it comes to too much information on the internet. This becomes a form of trolling.
Also, the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other ones makes it easy for scammers to take advantage of people. Lately there has been a number of scams showing up on Facebook. I am mainly thinking on Munchhausen by Internet. It is a slap in the face when we discover that we have been lied to. Millions have people have fallen for the lies of those who prey on the heart of unsuspecting people.There are some pretty elaborate stories out there. With everything available online, it is easy to research an illness. It doesn’t take long before they come across sympathetic listeners. Most who have Munchhausen by internet are lonely people who are craving sympathy and attention.
Many times the person who has Munchhausen by Internet will start off getting to know those involved in the groups. I first noticed this when I went to my first chat-room on Angelhaven. I noticed how easy it was to deceive someone. I never used the internet, so this was all new to me. There was one lady that was from Canada. I think her name was Ginger. She was talking about her struggles and eventually, she gained the trust of those in the chat-room. She was getting Sympathy and people invested a great deal financially and emotionally. I feel for it also and she sent me her telephone number. She proceeded to ask for money and it became emotionally draining. I had to step away.
Munchhausen Syndrome — a condition in which patients fake illness to get attention, often undergoing unnecessary tests and surgeries — is rare, such online versions of such fraud are becoming common enough to concern people with real life-threatening illnesses in support groups. There are a number of types of Munchhausen such as Munchhausen by Proxy, which means they hurt someone else. Or there is Munchhausen Syndrome where a person hurts themselves and seeks attention. This blog is about Munchhausen by Internet. I belong to a group on Facebook that discusses Guillian Barre Syndrome. It is easy to get sucked in if you’re not careful. More and more cases of Munchhausen by Internet are occurring. Below are some examples that I have directly witnessed.
- Cancer– In our area there was a lady who convinced everyone that she had cancer. She needed help with her medical bills, transportation and other necessities. She went as far as to shave her head. The woman’s friends and community became skeptical when they never seen her go to the Dr’s or to receive treatment. Just days before a major fundraiser, her gig was up. She ended up getting arrested for theft of services and falsifying reports. When you realize that you have been lied to and manipulated it is like a punch in the gut. I feel anger and resentment when I find out I was lied to.
- Guillian Barre Syndrome– Recently there was a gentleman that joined a group I belong to. His name is Jesse and he just joined and started off talking about how he was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome. He needed help financially and was asking others what to expect. He was having to drive 5 hours a day for IVIG treatments. Those of us who have had or have Guillian Barre knows that there is no way a person can drive. I took this very personal since I have the CIPD varient which is the chronic form. If he was newly diagnosed and he would have been in ICU on a vent. Some of us caught on to his scam and found the images he posted on other sites. It takes months before you can even walk, let alone drive. Most times it is years. We all knew he was trying to scam people. But, there was a few that was suckered in. They asked for a place to send money and all kinds of things.
- Anorexia/Bulimia – A friend of mine just divorced his wife of 20 years. She has been talking to her friends and those on the internet about helping her out. She has a daughter and step son and she is about to loose custody of both of them. She is very computer savvy and has been researching Anorexia. She hasn’t been to bad for a couple years, but now things are worse since her husband left her. But she is loosing everything and her family unit is destroyed. They are Christian and my prayer is that they can reconcile. But, she has lost her health, lively hood and trust of her family and friends. She has been soliciting funds and she was being treated at a mental health place in Phoenix, but she left when they wanted her to start taking responsibility for her own actions and choices. As of right now, she is refusing to do that and mentally she isn’t there. She could possibly loose her daughter. Which is sad.
I was reading how a woman who was sick both physically and emotionally ended up soliciting funds from everyone all over the world. The had people paying bills, sending gifts and paying for special trips. She is receiving services from the state and she is getting private donations. People with Munchhausen end up costing the medical system billions of dollars each year. There are people sitting in prison right now for faked and exaggerated illnesses. Munchhausen has a way of destroying families financially and emotionally. They are prisoners in a sense.
Now days it’s hard to not hear about these kinds of things. It’s as if those who help others and feel they need to be like Christ and show love are targets to these scammers. Don’t buy into this type of behavior. Below are some tale tale warning signs when it comes to Munchhausen by Internet. By the way, there are also other forms of Munchhausen.
- There are ongoing dramatic events going on in the persons life. The focus is on them and they crave attention.
- They posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;
- Heighten fear and crisis’s such as septic shock and infections. There have been times that people have injected themselves with things that will cause the body to go into shock.
- Posting comments or updates about the person, which is really the scammer. Look for patterns in how they write or say something.
- They are dying and all of the sudden they are healed. If they say they are in the hospital, you can call it and they will verify if they are or not. They can’t give personal info, but they will confirm. I have had to do this a few times.
- If someone is called out on things they have said or done, they will become furious and will go overboard in defending themselves. They will NEVER admit that they are doing things to themselves.
- Every now and then there will be a miraculous recovery – eventually there will be more dramatic things going on, a relapse or other conditions.
- They are knowledgeable when it comes to medical terms. When I think of this warning sign, I think of my own situation. There are times that each person has to be proactive and know what is going on. I research all the things my Dr’s give me or says. Since I have rare disorders I need to know. So with this warning sign, you may want to err on the side of caution.
For me, I guess this is a personal issue since I have known a few that have done this. I was fooled a few times and I have my guard up now. The nice thing about the internet is that it is easy to research things. Most times these scammers are going to other websites and learning about their fictitious and life threatening illness. Not everyone that posts or shares what they are going through are like this. There are genuinely sick people who needs help. Those who are deceitful makes it really hard to trust those who are honest. It’s sad that it has to be that way.
Those who have this lying disorder most of all are seeking attention, funds or material items. There will be some truth to their stories so they can prove something to those who want proof they are sick. The majority of people are honest and they have no problem sharing with you. I would thing that the famous quote, ” if it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” Also it seems terrible and dramatic and someone says how bad things are, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts. If you have a feeling you are being lied to, you may be right.
I try to be a loving and caring person. As a Christian, we are to treat others how we would like to be treated and to love others. When it comes to online scams and those who only care about themselves I have found that I can’t always trust what people post online. Most people on my Facebook I know personally or have met. Those who I don’t know personally doesn’t get all the posts I share. It is important to protect yourself when it comes to online relationships.
In closing, I just want to say that while the person is deceiving and doing what they are doing, we must remember that this is also a mental disorder and that needs to be treated. While I hate being lied to and deceived, I try to remember to love the person, pray for them and listen.