Shelby Wagner, of Sturgis, is brave. She has openly talked about internet romance scams because she was a victim.
“I was scammed in 2017 and I was so upset and humiliated I decided to write a book, ‘Learning to Dance in the Rain,’” Wagner said.
It covers three topics grief, internet dating and romance scams. They are not as disconnected as they might seem at first glance.
After losing her husband of 50 years, Wagner dipped her toe into internet dating because she was lonely.
Internet dating was great at first, Wagner said, but turned into a nightmare when she fell under the spell of a serial scammer.
Wagner writes about how skilled scammers are at their craft.
Like all abusive relationships it starts out great with declarations of love. Wagner says it is intoxicating when a phone dings, indicating a message.
But it didn’t last long. Soon she got a desperate plea for money and eventually sent a portion of what was requested.
It was followed by more desperate pleas and the praise of her beauty turned to accusations of her character. How could she be so uncaring? So unchristian? So selfish?
At one point Wagner went into a branch of her bank and withdrew a substantial about of cash. The bank clerk, likely trained to spot unusual behavior, questioned Wagner who said it was for her son’s friend. The second bank declined the deposit so she took the money back. Her bank knew a scam when they saw one and weren’t going to let Wagner be a victim. Again.
But Wagner was still trying to help the scammer. Her daughter said it was like she was under a spell or hypnotized.
After writing her story, Wagner said friends could accept her mistake, but some family members have not been so forgiving.
Be that as it may, during the pandemic shutdown Wagner reworked the book following professional advice. Now it’s gaining some national attention.
So far, “Learning to Dance in the Rain II” has won three awards:
- Living Now Book Awards in the relationships/marriage category.
- The Firebird Book Award in the grief category — sponsored by Speak Up Talk Radio.
- Book of the year award from Independent Authors Network in the grief and hardship category.
Wagner has been a guest on several radio talk shows and was recently invited to a Hollywood Book-to-Screen Pitchfest — one of 55 authors invited. It was the chance for the authors to meet film and television representatives seeking the next book they can adapt for the screen.
“I pitched to 14 representatives in 28 minutes in a ‘speed-dating’ setting,” Wagner said. “I had two professional video-taped interviews — one of which will be available on my website, www.learningtodanceintherain.org, and my YouTube.com/shelbywagner.”
Wagner is also available to speak to groups and it’s a topic that needs to be addressed.
“Romance scams have become the costliest scams ever reported to the FTC,” Wagner said. “Racking up $1 billion lost in the past two years to criminals who prey on lonely vulnerable Americans looking for love.”
To contact Wagner visit her website or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.