I Love You, Send Me Money & Bail Me Out!
[UPDATED below on August 12, 2019. This scammer appears to be using at least 2 different names!] In mid-July, 2019 we were contacted by a woman who felt that she had been scammed out of $500 by a man who had spent about ten weeks grooming her in an online and phone relationship. To protect her identity, we’ll call her Nancy. She’s given us a lot of information about the man with whom she developed this relationship and we present it here for our readers to decide if this man is a fraudster or not. There are many red flags to be concerned about, some of which are consistent with the stories told to us by other women in our original article “I Love You, Send Me Money.”
Nancy is a 58 year old woman, living in Illinois. She tells us that she met 54 year old “David Aapro” through the dating app Plenty of Fish ”POF.” She was communicating with this man from mid May to the end of July, 2019. David said that he was an Architect living in Rockford, Illinois though he is originally from Espoo, Finland. He has both a Facebook and LinkedIn account. (See screenshots at the bottom of this article. His accounts may be closed down by the time you read this article.) David claims to have his own Architectural firm named “DAPRO Architect and Engineers” [DAPRO is not our misspelling of his name!] He says his son, named Kelvin, is also studying architecture in California and is going to take over his business one day. David was previously married and his ex-wife lives in Arkansas. David displays his birthday as 1/8/1965 (January 8, 1965.) His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone number is 779-333-9034. Though he has an accent, Nancy tells us that he speaks and writes English very well.
Since David claimed to live in Rockford, Illinois, not too far from Nancy, she tried to meet with him in person but there was always some reason why it wasn’t possible. The first time he told Nancy he couldn’t meet because he had a retirement party to go to. The next time, he said his son was home from college and they were spending time together. And yet, Nancy said that David was calling and texting her the “entire time,” as she puts it. He sent her lots of pictures, including those of his son and mother, as well as Youtube songs professing to care for her. In fact, after a few weeks David was telling her that he loved her in his emails.
RED FLAG #1: Meeting a man online, who will only talk via phone or text chat, but never video chat or meet in person!
RED FLAG #2: Conveniently, David Aapro always had an excuse why he could not meet Nancy in person over the weeks as their relationship began to grow. And yet, without ever meeting in person, David is professing his love for Nancy.
Even though it would have been extremely easy to Skype or Facetime, it never happened! David had a smartphone and as an “architect” should have been plenty tech savvy to manage it. And yet, as if to prove he was real, David Aapro sent Nancy lots of photos. He sent her pictures of his son’s new car, and he and his son together. (See samples below.) Nancy says that David seemed to know her area, for example, saying that when he was returning from Wisconsin with his son he would be driving through the town of Roscoe. [NOTE: We are purposely blurring the face of the young man in the photo to protect his identity.]
And then David sent Nancy a screenshot of an invitation he received to bid on an architectural job out of state. (Why is it necessary to “prove” he received such an invitation?) He won that bid very quickly and had to leave immediately for New York. Of course, while he was in New York, he sent Nancy pictures of him at the job (obviously taken by someone else.) Below are two photos that show him inside a conference room and at a restaurant with two other men, with no verifiable way to prove where or when they were taken.
Our readers should keep in mind that during these weeks, Nancy and David were in constant communication with each other, but had never met in person or via video chat, presumably because he was always on the move. And then David informed Nancy that his bid on a project in Cyprus was accepted and he had to leave for that country immediately. He continued to text and call Nancy from Cyprus, and send her photos of him sightseeing at historical places, as well as pictures of the apartment he rented and the job site where he says he worked. He told her he would be in Cyprus for three weeks and then take a break, come home and meet her. Here are two of the photos David sent Nancy while sightseeing in Nicosia, Cyprus. The first was taken of him visiting a monument in Nicosia, and the second was David enjoying a coffee in front of the Saint Hilarion Cafe, also in Nicosia. Look very carefully at these photos!
RED FLAG #3: Someone used Photoshop to put David Aapro into these photos in Nicosia, Cyprus. He was NOT originally in these photographs. Even though we are skilled enough with Photoshop ourselves and recognized that these photographs were forged to include David, we also consulted another skilled Photoshop user and she spotted these anomalies immediately:
- The lighting and shadows on David and his clothes do not seem to match the lighting in the scenery behind him
- Anyone who works with Photoshop can see, when they zoom into these photos, that the edge of David and his clothes are a sharp contrast to the background, indicating that “he” was placed in the photos through graphic manipulation.
- David is wearing the exact same shirt and jacket in each of the above two photographs and yet, the jacket appears to be a slightly different color between the photos AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the pocket square handkerchief AND pocket it is tucked into are on his left side of the jacket (our right as we look at it) in the bottom photo but are on the opposite side of his jacket in the top photo! This means that one of these images was flipped from the original. This is proof that these photos were forged.
After discovering this photo-forgery, we looked more carefully at the other photos that David sent to Nancy and found another anomaly that suggested he had been dropped into the photo using photo-manipulation software. Look again at the photo above of David at the restaurant with two men. LOOK CAREFULLY AT HIS TIE, CHIN, AND WATER GLASS in the background….
Much like the spectacularly weird M.C. Escher painting called Waterfall, the water glass in the background seems to extend too far on the right, under David’s chin, and obliterating the top of his jacket, at the right shoulder, as if his jacket and water level are in the same horizontal plane. We believe this photo was also manipulated to include David Aapro.
Nancy didn’t notice any of these photo anomalies. But it wasn’t long after David was “in Cyprus” when he tried to cash in on his relationship with Nancy. He told her he had a problem, saying that his laptop for work was damaged on the site. He asked her if she could look for one here in the U.S. and he sent her the specs he needed. Nancy found the laptop he asked for but when she asked him how to pay for it he told her that his credit card was maxed out. The implication, of course, was for Nancy to make the purchase and David would have offered to reimburse her for it or send her a check. However, Nancy told him that she didn’t have the funds. David told her that he eventually found one on the other side of the island and paid cash for it. But then David needed some software loaded onto his new laptop but was somehow locked out of his iTunes account. He said he needed iTunes gift cards to replace the software for his job. Unfortunately, that ploy worked and Nancy purchased $500 worth of iTunes gift cards and sent him the card information.
RED FLAG #4: Why should a successful architect, who does work internationally as well as nationally, have only ONE credit card that is maxed out? Why should he have to ask a woman he’s known only a few weeks for $500? What about his long-time friends, family or the company he is working for? There is nothing about his request that makes sense at all…. Unless he’s a scam artist!
RED FLAG #5: The Daily Scam has learned from experience that iTunes gift cards are amongst the favorite, untraceable currencies requested by scam artists the world over. If you can convince someone to buy one, scratch off the protective cover and give you the numbers on the cards, these cards can be cashed in anywhere in the world.
After about five weeks away, David informed Nancy that he was booking his trip home and he even sent her a copy of his ticket, since Nancy agreed to pick him up at the airport and thus meet him in person for the first time.
From: david aapro <email@example.com>
Date: July 1, 2019 at 8:36:50 AM CDT
To: [EMAIL REDACTED]
Subject: my flight ticket
Sweetheart, here is a copy of my flight ticket. I will land Sunday 17:35 your time.
my first stop is at Istanbul. i love you
Here is a link to a pdf of his flight ticket: David-Aapro-Booking-Turkish-Air. David Aapro may not realize that every pdf file contains METADATA. Metadata is information stored within that pdf about the creation of that file. It is easy for many PDF viewers to retrieve that information, which we did. [To display the metadata of any pdf on a Mac, open the pdf with Preview. Click “Tools” on the menu bar and then select “show inspector.”] These screenshots below show the metadata contained in the 2-page pdf file David sent to Nancy with his flight information from Cyprus:
RED FLAG #6: The pdf metadata shows us that on July 1, at 7:49 AM, someone used the website sejda.com to create this pdf. Sejda is a simple-to-use online tool to edit, convert, merge and manipulate pdf documents from within your browser! In other words, the Turkish Airlines flight receipt that David sent to Nancy was edited, or possibly completely fabricated using Sejda.com!
However, there were more surprises to come! Nancy then received a phone call from a man in Cyprus claiming to be an “advocate lawyer” named Attorney Rafik Batu, representing Mr. David Aapro. Attorney Batu informed Nancy that David was being detained in Cyprus due to “overstaying his visa” and “breach of contract” with his employer in Cyprus. David was asking Nancy, through his attorney, to pay his bail of $4,350 Euros so he could be released from jail! Oh, horrors! Attorney Batu sent Nancy the following email and “court bail” document.
From: Rafik Batu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: July 8, 2019 at 10:31:20 PM CDT
To: [EMAIL REDACTED]
Subject: Court paperwork.
Good Evening to you Ma’. It’s Attr Rafik.
Please heck the attached for the paperwork from the court. I’m sorry i kept you waiting, I thought the email was sent last night.
RED FLAG #7: This is where this scam falls apart terribly! We could not find any Attorney named Rafik Batu through a Google search. Also, notice that Attorney Batu’s email does not come from a business domain. It comes from a generic Gmail account.
Look carefully at the details of this court document….
Link to full pdf of the court document: David Aapro court bail conditions
RED FLAG #8: It is remarkably easy to see that this “court” document is completely fake! We count at least TEN grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors in this official document. Even if we were to be overly generous with the “court” in Cyprus because English is not their first language, wouldn’t you at least expect the court to spell the name of their island country correctly? Look in the upper right corner! “Lefkosa, northern cypus” should be “Lefkosa, Northern Cyprus.” And the red seal in the lower right corner is very obviously an internet graphic that was pasted into this pdf. If you zoom in on the red seal in the lower right corner of the pdf you’ll find small white lettering showing that it was a stock image taken from Alamy.com, an online stock image service. By the way, the metadata for this pdf shows that it was created with CorelDRAW on July 8, at 1:12 PM. CorelDRAW is another vector graphic program, similar to Photoshop. “David” may also have taken other images from Alamy to send to Nancy. For example, we found a similar image of the monument behind David in Nicosia, Northern Cyprus on the Alamy website.
Returning to our drama, Nancy at this point not only tells the “Attorney” that she doesn’t have the funds, but she contacted us and said that she was suspicious this whole affair wasn’t legitimate. And she reached out to the US embassy in Cyprus. The US embassy staff were kind enough to inform her that there was no one by the name David Aapro who entered the country of Cyprus.
Let’s take a closer look at this Architect from Finland named “David Aapro.” We sent Nancy several YouTube videos of people speaking English with a Finnish accent and, according to Nancy, his accent sounds like the people in the videos. However, we cannot confirm that the man represented in the many photos he sent was indeed the man Nancy had been communicating with over many weeks since she never met him in person, nor had a real-time video chat with him. (We were unable to locate any of David’s photos through a reverse image search. Nor could we find any geo-location information in his photos.) Below are several screenshots taken from David Aapro’s Plenty of Fish (POF), Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Nancy gave us the links to these accounts that David had shared with her. We confirmed that each of these accounts were active on July 27, 2019 but they may be removed or shut down once “David” learns of this article:
David’s POF account name is: itsmytime590
Here are some of the things that “David Aapro” has listed about himself in his social media accounts and what we discovered about him:
Self-employed as the CEO of his business named “DApro Architects and Engineers” from January, 2002 to present. No city listed, only “United States.” Since January, 2014 his business is also listed as operating in Canada.
RED FLAG #9: Though David claims that DApro Architects and Engineers has been around for more than 17 years and operates in two countries, we cannot find ANY website for his business. Also, the Better Business Bureau has no listing of his company whatsoever.
David also claims to have earned his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Aalto University, in Espoo, Finland back in 1985. Technically speaking, Aalto University has existed by this name only since 2010 after a merger of three Finnish Universities: the Helsinki University of Technology (established 1849), the Helsinki School of Economics (established 1904), and the University of Art and Design Helsinki (established 1871), according to Wikipedia. So if David were truly a graduate from 1985, his degree would have been from the University of Art and Design, of Helsinki. Since that University no longer exists by that name, we’ll cut David a little slack for using Aalto University. We reached out to an employee at Aalto University who was also an alumnus. He said that he checked a student/alumni database for “David Aapro” and found nothing. But this isn’t proof of fraud, as he told us… “because it seems that not all Master’s and Bachelor’s theses from this decade have been uploaded into the system, so him not appearing there is not necessarily proof of fraud.” While it may not prove fraud, it also doesn’t disprove our point by showing that he (or someone with his name) graduated from that university with a degree in Architecture. Also, our contact at Aalto U. told us that “Aapro” is a common Finnish name.
David also claims to have earned a Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Southern California in 1996. We reached out to the USC Alumni office but they would not provide any information to us about their graduates. They did tell us that we could send their security department evidence that someone is fraudulently claiming to be a graduate from USC and they will investigate the claim themselves. We’ve done that!
David also claimed to be a member of the “U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL” in 1996. (The council was founded in 1993.) We contacted the Council and they could only tell us that no one by the name “David Aapro” was currently listed as a member of the council.
And from David Aapro’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts we also found several other RED FLAGS:
RED FLAG #10: Facebook facts that don’t add up…
- David joined Facebook at about age 53/54 in January, 2018 –where was he before that?
- Though he is connected to 466 individuals on LinkedIn, he has ZERO friends/relatives on Facebook. (His account is public.) Not even his son is connected to him on Facebook! The fact that he has NO FACEBOOK FRIENDS tells us that the connections he made on Linkedin are very likely courtesy connections others have made when he reached out to them and that these connections don’t personally know him. It is likely that none are “friends.” This is very odd for a man who claims to have been working in the architectural industry for 17 years.
- Despite having 466 connections on LinkedIn, David has NO ENDORSEMENTS OF SKILLS on his Facebook page.
- Over 18 months, David has ONLY posted 2 Photos on his Facebook page and no posts or ongoing conversations with others. His Facebook account is essentially empty, other than a few things he shared from his “feed” in April.
Not that it really matters, but we also can’t help but notice that of the 11 photos Nancy shared with us with David in them, he is wearing the same shirt or shirt/jacket/handkerchief in 4 of the 11 photos. And we find it peculiar that the name of his architectural firm is not a correct spelling of his last name. When you review all of the details above, especially the many “red flags,” it appears to us that David Aapro is a scam artist who manipulated Nancy into sending him $500. Then he tried to manipulate her into sending another $4,849 dollars (the value of $4,350 euros on 7/27/19). Sadly, this is not the first time that Nancy has been successfully targeted by scam artists. As she tells us, “the other person scammed me out of $9,500. He was on a job out of the country and had equipment break down and needed funds to fix it. He sent a bill payment check through what I thought was his account to my bank by just using my name and bank address. The bank put it into my account. I stupidly withdrew the funds when they cleared and sent the money to where he said the part he needed would ship from. After that the check was reversed and the bank said I had to pay it back. None of the banks would give me any information on whose account it was. I filed police reports but they couldn’t do anything. I ran the photos through Tineye and it came up with someone else’s name. I assume he stole someone’s identity. This is why I didn’t send David any more money.”
At The Daily Scam we’ve learned that victims of deceptive scams like these are often targeted again by the same scammer. We hope this isn’t the case for Nancy. We also have another concern. David Aapro’s Facebook page has nothing listed for his home address, not even a state. Nor does his POF account provide a state but says only “Rockford.” There are sixteen states with towns across the U.S. named Rockford. We think it is very likely that this could be by design because David is scamming other women in the U.S. and claiming to live near them.
IMPORTANT UPDATES August 12, 2019:
A professional investigative reporter read this article and gave us some additional tips to explore David Aapro’s story and they don’t add up. For example, most states require a business to obtain a license, including Illinois. We searched the Illinois state business directory and there are NO BUSINESSES registered in Illinois under the name “DAPRO Architects” or any variation of that name. Also, the professional reporter told us that Architects are required to be registered in the state of Illinois and they are listed in an online database. David Aapro does not come up in a search in this database!
Finally, we’ve learned that there is another seemingly fake profile on LinkedIn that appears to be made by the same scammer who made up David Aapro. The name is Lucas Totti and his Linkedin Profile can be found here, as of August 12, 2019. However, we’ve added a screenshot below.
Below are the screenshots from David’s social media accounts we captured on July 23, 2019.