my boss is being catfished, can I ask to be laid off instead of a coworker, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss is being catfished

My supervisor and I don’t have a particularly collegial relationship. She often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority, and I’m not getting the guidance, support, or recognition from her that I need. That said, while we’re never going to be close, we have both been working hard to build rapport.

During a recent Zoom check-in, she told me about a new man she’s been seeing: a widower in a neighboring state who repairs oil rigs for a living, meaning he spends a lot of time out of the country. They met through a dating website, and things have gotten serious fast. He’s intuitive and nurturing and wants to take care of her, including financially. They send photos to each other every day.

She so excited that she showed me a photo of him — and a little alarm bell went off in the back of my head. Something about the photo just wasn’t right. But it wasn’t until I was off the call that it hit me: This is no whirlwind romance. She’s about to fall straight into a catfish scam. Sure enough, I Googled “oil rigs” and “catfishing,” and the results are damning.

I don’t know what to do. At the very least, my supervisor deserves to know that this is a common scam, so that she can protect herself. But how on earth would I bring it up with her? “Hey, how’s that guy you’re seeing? Did you know that catfishers often masquerade as oil rig workers?” I think she’d have a hard time hearing that from her closest friend, let alone from me, arguably her least-favorite colleague.

Oh no. I’d love to tell you to tip her off, and if you’d described her any differently I would. But “she often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority” indicates it could go quite badly, and there’s professional risk to you in telling her something she’s highly likely to find embarrassing even though you’d be acting in her interests.

Any chance there’s another colleague whose relationship with her doesn’t have the same baggage and who she might be more willing to hear it from? Assuming she’s shared the same details with them, ideally that person would send her one of the articles you found with a note saying something like, “I came across this and it sounded similar enough to what you’d told me that I wanted to pass it along in case it’s something you’d want to see.”

Otherwise, well … people in positions of authority who make it hard for people to bring them bad news tend not to get bad news. I hope for your boss’s sake that someone else can talk to her, but you don’t need to be the one to do it if you’d pay a professional price.

2. Can I ask to be laid off instead of a coworker?

My company just laid off a huge number of people — 14% overall, more than half of my department. They announced four months ago that they were going to restructure, but they gave no hints about who would go and didn’t ask the managers for their input. My department lost people who were dedicated and devoted to the job and had years and seniority in the department. I’ve just been there for three years, and I’m bored out of my mind. I’m old enough to get Social Security at full freight, my living expenses are low, and I have a financial cushion. I fully expected that I would be laid off because I figured I had less value than most of the other people there, and I was hanging on in order to get severance and unemployment. But I was kept on.

Is it too late for me to ask them to fire me and hire one of my devastated colleagues back instead?

That’s very kind of you but … yeah, it’s probably not something you can do at this point. Layoff decisions aren’t usually completely random selections. They might have been selected because their salaries were more expensive than yours (particularly since you noted they had a lot of seniority), or for performance reasons, or because of a belief that their work could be picked up by others (or cut completely) in a way that would be more difficult with your role, or all sorts of other things.

Companies also tend to be wary of laying someone off and then telling them “never mind, we can bring you back!” because that person is never going to feel secure there again (and will likely keep up an active job hunt). It also tends to make things feel more chaotic at a time when the company is extra invested in trying to make things feel stable for the people still there.

The time to speak up if you’re willing to be laid off is, unfortunately, before those decisions are finalized (and even then there’s no guarantee your employer will be willing to eliminate your particular role). This stuff is based more on what makes sense for the business than on who is willing to go (although there can be exceptions to that).

3. My employee cried at a meeting

I manage two engineers, Clara and Marty. I believe in accepting the blame for my team’s mistakes and giving engineers credit for our successes. I think that’s an important way to show my team that I have their backs and that I’ll always boost them when they do great work.

We recently had an incident where something we created for another team fell short of the requester’s expectations. It was less detailed than they wanted and in a different format than they expected. I think this was a case of miscommunication between our teams about requirements and that it’s ultimately my responsibility to make sure that requirements are clear on both sides.

When we talked about next steps in our team’s daily meeting, the engineer who wrote the document, Clara, was visibly upset and turned off her camera briefly. When she turned it back on, she was clearly (but silently) crying. This caught me off guard and I wasn’t sure what to do. I made a split second decision to basically ignore her physical response and focus on how we should respond to the document issue as a team. I emphasized that I was taking the blame for the misstep, and I asked Clara and Marty to work together to recreate the document by the end of the week, since they’re more familiar with the inner workings of the relevant products than I am.

Clara’s work is consistently very good, and I don’t blame her for the document’s issues. She’s a valued member of the team, and this is the first negative feedback she’s gotten in about a year working with us. I want her to know that negative feedback is expected on occasion and that this isn’t a major issue.

I always want my staff to feel supported, but I’m second-guessing myself right now. Did I do the right thing in not responding to emotions in the moment? Should I reach out one-on-one and offer encouragement, or would that be more likely to upset her when it isn’t necessary?

Was she just a little teary or are we talking about noticeable tears streaming down her face? If she was just a bit teary, I think what you did is fine — but I’d also check in on her soon afterwards (if not immediately, then later that day); say she seemed upset and you wanted to check on how she’s doing. But noticeable tears are different and in that case it’s harder to just move on with the meeting without everyone feeling awkward about no one acknowledging what’s happening. In that case, I’d come up with a reason to end the meeting quickly and then call her one-on-one to see what’s going on.

In general, some people tear up easily and you don’t want to call attention to it every time. But in a context like this and when it’s happening in a group meeting, I do think you should check in.

4. Can I go back to my old career after a career change failure?

A few years ago, I left a career I was modestly happy in to chase my dream career in the music industry. I went back to school and graduated in May just around when the pandemic struck, and since then I have only been able to find part-time employment in something not really related to either my previous career or prospective future career. I can’t find any jobs in the field I went back to school for, and I’ve gotten to the point where I wish I never went back to school.

While I wasn’t over-the-moon passionate about my old job, there were many aspects I enjoyed and as I’ve grown older, I’ve better understood the merits of having a career that I like and pursuing what I love (like making music) outside of work for fun. And of course, now that I’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, I’m really craving the stability of my old job, something my new career choice likely wouldn’t have even outside of a pandemic.

However, I’m terrified that no company in my old field will hire me, as my failed career change not only shows that I am a failure but also that I was not passionate about my previous career. My old industry is competitive and there are people who are passionate about it. Do you have any advice on how to apply to jobs in my old field? Do you think it’s even possible to get back in? And should I include any of the internships from my time in grad school on my resume, just to show that I’ve been working, or should I leave them off since they are not relevant to my old career?

Whoa, you have cast this in the worst possible light for yourself! A failed career change (during a pandemic, no less) doesn’t make you a failure, and employers aren’t going to think you’re a failure. They’re going to think that you tried to switch careers during a pandemic, had a change of heart, and are now picking up where you left off. This is not a big deal. It happens to many people, even outside of pandemics.

Frame your return as you realizing how much you appreciate about the original field (be prepared to talk specifically about what, beyond just stability). Divide your resume into Relevant Experience (which you’ll lead with) and Other Experience (where your grad school internships will go — and keep those listings short; no need to list tons of details). Connect with your network from the old field and work those connections hard. The job market means this will be harder right now than it would have been two years ago, but none of this is insurmountable. And no one will think you’re a failure!

5. Is it misleading to leave a college I attended off my resume?

I did my freshman year of college at “Squirrel College” before transferring to “Brakebills,” where I spent three years and earned my bachelor’s. I graduated a few years ago and have since moved my education to the bottom of my resume and focused more prominently on my strong work history. On a recent application, I removed Squirrel College from my resume to make more room for work accomplishments. Brakebills is a much more impressive school; it does not strengthen my candidacy to list Squirrel College. However, I worry if this is misleading — or even seems like lying — because since I spent only three years at Brakebills, it may look like I earned my bachelor’s degree in three years, which would be impressive but is not the case. Should I keep my year at Squirrel College on my resume to avoid this impression?

Nope. You don’t need to list the dates you attended at all. All you need to list is the degree-issuing institution and the year the degree was granted, like this:

Brakebills University, B.A. in Alchemy, 2016

And in fact, lots of lots of people drop the year entirely and just list it like this:

Brakebills University, B.A. in Alchemy

It’s pretty normal to keep the year of graduation on for the first decade or so that you’re out of school, but after that more people drop it entirely than not (in part because of worries about age discrimination, but it’s just become convention at this point).

{ 445 comments… read them below }

  1. MJ*

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.” Carl Sagan

    You gain nothing but could lose a lot if you mention anything.

    1. MK*

      Quite apart from that, it’s not as if the OP has any hard evidence her manager is the victim of a scam. Or that her manager is going to fall for it.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, I would not try to save this manager. You will end up in a world of pain if you try. Nobody likes the person who tells them their boyfriend is no good.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be inclined to do such an awful boss any favors anyway. Just focus on survival. It’s a classic case of “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Agreed. I would let this boss learn her lesson for herself since she would probably react negatively towards you for telling her. That’s not on you.

      2. Mhmm*

        My husband worked in oil when we met, so I met him really quickly. If anything, OP should encourage her boss to meet this man in person, in a safe environment. She has literally no proof that this man is catfishing anyone, besides a Google search. It’s kind of a leap to assume this on nothing more. Plenty of people actually work in oil and they, like most others, date online.

        1. Chinook*

          That is what I am thinking too. Here in Alberta, lots of men (and many women) have jobs where they are 14 on, 4 off, and it isn’t some type of red flag for being fake. In fact, I turned down one job like that because of how it would have affected my social life, even though it would have paid very, very well.

          Encouraging your boss to meet them in person in a public space is the most you should suggest unless you have proof of catfishing.

    4. Sue*

      I might use the “I just read an article” if she brought it up again. Say, “I’m glad he’s real because”.. yada yada. Not because I have any obligation but I think there is a low risk way to raise it and these scammers are so vile and destructive. I just don’t think I could watch it without some small warning even if I thoroughly disliked her. If she ignores it, ok..

      1. a sound engineer*

        Ooh, that’s a clever way to sneak it into conversation without it seeming like you’re attacking the relationship at all. Filing that away for future use (hopefully will never have to use it though)

      2. Mongrel*

        You could also use a fictional “A relative got caught like that”, make it an uninteresting Aunt or Cousin in another state.

      3. Astoria*

        Yes, or casually mention getting fakey friend requests on social media from supposedly perfect men. Mention it sometime outside of a conversation about her new boyfriend so it’s not so obvious. It might set off a warning bell.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Ugh…the fake friend requests…so annoying. It’s always from “generic name” or “name from another culture” dude, supposedly widowed or single, with some great-sounding job and living somewhere far away. No mutual friends, nothing but a few pictures visible on the profile.

          Immediate delete request and report fake profile from me. Along with an eyeroll, because why not multi-task a bit?

          So malicious and destructive to prey on people that way.

      4. Forrest*

        I still wouldn’t even do this. For one thing, it’s very hard to carry off the required level of nonchalance that would make it genuinely feel like you’re just mentioning it, rather than trying to pass on a warning. For another, I just think even being the person who ~inadvertantly~ tipped her off about something so humiliating will mark your card.

      5. WellRed*

        The boss has already made it clear in work matters she’s uninterested in anything OP has to say. Throw in the potential for personal embarrassment and there’s just no way this ends well.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          My relationship with my boss is pretty similar to OP’s description of their relationship. I would not say anything. It took us WEEKS to get back on level ground after I pointed out a minor scheduling glitch. I don’t even want to think about what it would be like if I told her I didn’t believe her internet boyfriend was real.s

      6. Wintermute*

        Tactics I’ve used in the past include — “I just got an email from my bank warning me about this new scam”, “I found a new true crime youtube channel, the episode I saw was about this scammer…” and “I saw a crazy segment on dateline last night” to similar effect.

      7. Antilles*

        In general, that’s a decent strategy, but unfortunately, it seems clear to me from the first two sentences that the Boss neither wants nor respects OP’s judgment. That’s just the way their dynamic works and that’s that. So I only see two ways this goes:
        -(1) OP fails to carry it off with the appropriate level of casual nonchalance, so Boss sees right through it and gets pissed.
        -(2) OP *does* manage to make it sufficiently casual that the Boss doesn’t connect the dots of “this is a warning”, in which case, the Boss, well, doesn’t connect the dots. So your warning is pointless anyways.
        This just seems like one of those sad situations where there’s nothing you can realistically do except sigh ruefully, wait for the train to go off the rails, and avoid being judgmental when it all falls apart.

        1. NotJane*

          I agree. Are there ways to delicately or subtly bring this up? Of course. But the real question is, *Should* OP bring it up in this specific context and dynamic? I’d say definitely not.

        2. This is at least my fourth username*

          Unlikely, but also (3) – the boyfriend turns out to be legit, and then the OP gets blamed for trying to sabotage boss’s relationship.

      8. meyer lemon*

        I would still be hesitant to mention it, as much as I’d hate to see someone fall victim to one of these scams. When someone gets this emotionally invested, it becomes highly embarrassing to admit that they were wrong, and they become willing to justify any number of red flags. Unfortunately an unwillingness to believe we could ever be the victim of a scam is one of the things that makes people most susceptible to them.

      9. SweetFancyPancakes*

        I was thinking along the same lines- it would be really hard for me to watch someone get reeled in like that, even if we didn’t get along.

      10. Emma*

        Yeah. I would not feel ok ethically in this situation if I didn’t at least try to give her a heads up. If it is a scam, then in many cases you’re talking about losing life-changing amounts of money. People lose their retirement savings, their houses… and on top of that they wind up on lists that prevent them from having a bank account or any kind of credit, because they have been involved in money laundering. If her work is financially sensitive – the type of role where you need a credit check to get hired – then she could lose her job and struggle to find another. This stuff could ruin her life.

        That said, you can’t “make her see” and if it is a scam, and she spots and avoids it, she will probably never tell LW. That’s ok. You can’t get her out of the situation, but you can gently let her know that scammers often use stories like this, so that if he does start asking for money she knows there is a risk.

        What she decides to do with that information is up to her. Hopefully the guy is legit and it never becomes an issue. If it does, and she decides to take the risk, that’s up to her. But at least if she’s aware of the possibility then she has a fighting chance.

        1. Self Employed*

          In the Before Times, it would be easy to print out an article about catfishing and leave it in the break room where she’d see it but not connect it to OP. (Yes, printers fingerprint things, but you have to care enough and know enough to look for the microdots and decode them.) I don’t know what the equivalent would be if y’all are working from home because you probably can’t post things in Slack or whatever anonymously.

    5. Reality Check*

      “It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Mark Twain

    6. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed. I’m not even sure what OP would say at this stage – the only thing she really has to go on is that this guy is an oil worker and his picture seemed ‘off’. It isn’t that damning.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Have you ever online dated? Fakery abounds! Thereis absolutely no vetting done by the online dating companies and it is definitely buyer beware. The first thing anyone should do is a reverse image search. And yes, certain tropes are used more than others by scammers. The next thing, this guy will have a long story about wanted to come see her but not having the money for some reason and asking her to send it. It’s a con that preys on vulnerable people looking for love.

        That said, I do not understand why the boss is sharing this information with someone she isn’t close to. I wouldn’t tell boss point blank my suspicions given the relationship, but would try a surreptitious method to at least alert her to the possibility of fraud. Generally, I believe women should help other women. But, some folks would rather cling to a fantasy. So, tread lightly, and your instincts are good OP.

        1. BHB*

          You’re totally right, and it’s likely this is a scam. However, if I was in a new relationship and a coworker told me they thought it was a scam because the photo looked a bit “off” and the guy was in a specific job.. I wouldn’t take that seriously and the likelihood is neither will the boss.

          It’s a really tough thing to do, to convince someone they’re being scammed. It might seem abundantly clear from the outside, but the boss is on the inside of this looking out, and is being manipulated into always believing their new boyfriend rather than any naysayers.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I date online all the time and I am aware of the concept of romance scams – thanks for your concern? I’m just saying that – based on my experiences on the apps and also living in an oil city with many family and friends working offshore – a LOT of oil workers legitimately use dating apps because they do not have a lifestyle that lends itself well to other methods of dating. That is why “oil worker” is such a good cover for scammers, but it is also a real job that actual people do. If the OP goes to her boss and says “I think this guy is scamming you because he says he works in oil and I think his photo looks weird”, that is not a lot to go on. If she had more to go on then I would be more in favour of talking to the boss.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            (Sorry, hit post too soon.) And to be clear, I am not arguing that this guy is *not* a scammer – my gut feeling is that he probably is. But I just think that this is not a super convincing amount of evidence as it stands, and probably will not do much to convince the boss. A lot of people work in oil and have weird profile pictures, you know?

          2. Mhmm*

            Thank you! The guy isn’t a Nigerian prince. Depending on where OP lives, this could be a totally normal job. Half the profiles I saw were for oil men and I married one. This is a ridiculous assumption on no more evidence and unless Boss gives more hints, OP needs to mind her own business.

        3. Smithy*

          At one point my brother got involved in a Craigslist scam when trying to sell some of his furniture. In a situation far less emotional than dating, I still recall how very reluctant he was to share the details where I was able to go “this is clearly a scam, call your bank, block his phone number, get out.”

          My brother was at an age that this was all just very embarrassing for him at a time when he was moving in with his fiance and wanted to appear like he could handle himself. And for his big sister to be insisting that he was being scammed and to share every detail to know exactly how much he was compromised – he was highly resistant.

          Had the scam involved comfort, companionship and romance…..I can’t even imagine how much harder it would have been to convince him.

        4. Nanani*

          ” I do not understand why the boss is sharing this information with someone she isn’t close to”

          People excited about new relationships sometimes gush about them to everyone and anyone, even their work subordinates who they don’t get along with.

      2. MsClaw*

        Yeah, that was my response as well. What *exactly* is so damning? She did some googling and found that catfishing + oil rigs exists. Okay, that’s….. not proof. If she found an article about catfishing and oil rigs that included the exact picture the manager showed her, then maybe figure out some way to anonymously email/print out and leave on chair or something like that. But nothing presented in the letter actually draws a direct line from A to B.

    7. Snow Globe*

      The LW might feel guilty if they say nothing, but I do think that it is highly unlikely that the Boss would believe LW anyway.

    8. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Several years ago I asked a friend why a British bank would send her unsolicited a $3,000 cashier’s check to be a secret shopper? All she had to do was cash the check and send them $2,000 and a report on the bank’s service. She got “paid” $1,000 for her work. I told her it sounded like a scam but she went ahead anyway. Long story short, the check was fake and the bank froze her accounts. She was out only $2,000 because she hadn’t spent her “payment” yet. It was very hard not to say I told you so.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        It’s amazing how people can ignore logic when falling for these scams. I have an amazing friend who has gotten involved in the recent resurgence of “gifting” circle pyramid schemes. She sought my opinion, and I told her these endless chain recruiting moving money around groups are illegal because they are not sustainable and always collapse, leaving newer participants holding the bag. You just don’t get something for nothing in this world. Con artists will always be with us, but people can protect themselves by always being skeptical, as trust and money don’t mix.

        1. londonedit*

          And the trouble is, most of the time there’s just enough truth or likelihood in what’s happening that people can believe it’s legit until it becomes abundantly clear that it’s not. There’s a scam here where someone will click on a dodgy link or respond to a dodgy email – and then they realise what they’ve done, and cancel their bank cards. You’d think that’d be the end of it, but no – a week or so later they’ll get a call from ‘their bank’ saying fraudulent activity has been noted on their account, and they need to immediately move their money into a ‘safe account’. Of course it’s no such thing, it’s a fraudster’s own bank account, but because the victim recently had a scare with bank fraud they think oh no, it must be to do with that, and they panic and end up transferring the money. We all like to think we wouldn’t fall victim to these things, but scammers know precisely how to play on people’s insecurities and what will make them panic enough to do things they wouldn’t necessarily do if they were thinking rationally.

          1. Threeve*

            I came across a scam when I was apartment hunting on my own for the first time. The rent was almost too good to be true, but the pictures made the place look just shabby enough that it would make sense…and then oh, the landlord lived abroad, and they’ve had a lot of interest but are hoping to move quickly, they could waive the security deposit if I could do a wire transfer for the first month’s rent by the end of the week…

            I was young enough to (briefly) be fooled, but also young enough that I had no idea what a wire transfer was and decided that it would be too much work to figure it out so I gave up.

            1. Kiwipinball*

              I was renting a place out on CL and ran into the opposite. Someone who sounded great wanted to rent. She was from France – I majored in French (I think that was actually a coincidence, “she” just needed to be in a foreign country to explain not wanting to look at the place). I was excited at first (I can practice my French!) but started to get suspicious that 1) she had no questions about the place and 2) kept insistently asking for my address so her uncle could send her rent. At the time I wasn’t sure how sending me money could be a scam, but it was sending off red flags. When I googled it I learned more about the whole sending more money than necessary and asking for some back, which made more sense. But it is hard to convince people they are being scammed. A friend’s mom fell for a combo of “romance” and sneaking gold into country (very convoluted story, approximately 1,000,000 red flags). People/organizations that told her it was a scam: her bank, the police, the FBI, her children, her (now ex) husband, articles on the internet, the US embassy in the country her boyfriend was supposedly from, probably some others. She would just double down. She ended up divorced and neither of her kids will talk to her and last I heard she’d sent over $100,000. It was so sad and my friend was so upset and frustrated, but there was nothing anyone could do.

              1. Archaeopteryx*

                That’s very sad about your friend’s mom, but it does kind of illustrate an aspect of how people get away with this.

                People assume that anyone who would fall for this stuff must be incredibly naïve or gullible, and in some cases that’s true. But a lot of it can be how unwilling you are to admit to being wrong. And the more you pooh-pooh people’s warnings, the more embarrassing it would be for you to finally admit you were wrong or ask for help. So some people just keep going. It’s a lot about how healthy you are at resolving cognitive dissonance.

                I think that’s part of why scammers make their attempts so ham-fisted and obvious. Part of it is to weed out people who can clearly see it’s not legit (so the scammers don’t waste their time, and maybe so that people won’t report it as urgently, because ‘who would even fall for that’). But part of it is to make it more embarrassing to realize you’ve been had, so you won’t want to admit it and warn other people about it.

                1. Emma*

                  People are so susceptible to shame when they’ve been scammed, too.

                  At work I once helped a woman sort things out when she had been scammed. It was a pretty unspectacular scam, which didn’t prey on any difficult emotions like loneliness or fear. She got a call when she was in the middle of cooking, by someone saying they were from [company] (they weren’t), they could see she had recently purchased [equipment] (she had), and did she want to sign up for accidental damage insurance? (She had already signed up for it when she placed the order)

                  She was tired and in a rush, didn’t realise anything was off, and gave them her details. Next bank statement arrives and she realises she is being charged twice for the insurance – once by the real company and once by the scammers.

                  It’s a decent scam and a lot of people would fall for it. It certainly didn’t reveal anything personal about her or suggest that she had been gullible or naive in any way. But she was *so* embarrassed. She explained over and over that she was tired, her husband was poorly etc. She kept calling herself stupid. I think by the end of the appointment, she was pleased that we had sorted things out with the bank as far as possible, but what made the bigger difference for her was my insistence that she wasn’t stupid, they were professional criminals, anyone could have fallen victim to this etc. It’s really awful the effect these things have on people’s confidence.

            2. Quill*

              Lol, I wonder how many millennials trapped between old and new financial expectations have been saved from scams by having no idea how to do things the old fashioned way?

          2. Ama*

            Someone tried to call my grandmother and do one of those “it’s your grandson, I’m in jail and don’t want to call my parents can you send me money for bail” scams. Unfortunately for them, they apparently had old information because the name they picked was my cousin who had recently passed away — my grandmother (who is not normally that kind of person) let them string along for a bit before saying “oh, I’m so surprised to hear from you since you’re dead” and hanging up.

            As she noted, it wouldn’t have worked anyway since at the point even all the surviving cousins were in their 30s and married, so “don’t tell my mom” would have instantly tipped her off. But she said she could see how someone who had a grandchild where that was a more plausible situation would have fallen for it, as they really turned on the emotion and panic.

            1. Sleepless*

              Somebody tried that on my MIL. She was kind-hearted to a fault and that made her extremely gullible, and she was always falling for various low-level scams. Amazingly, she didn’t fall for this one. She did call me after the scammer called her to make sure everything was OK. I was able to assure her that my son was indeed at work, and not in jail in the next town for a DUI, and that this was a well-known scam. I was really proud of her, because that was exactly the sort of thing she would fall for.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              When they tried this with my grandmother, they made two mistakes. First, it was the day after her birthday so she had actually spoken on the phone with all of her grandchildren the day before and knew that we were in our home cities and not, in fact, in a foreign country where our passports had been stolen and needed to be replaced. Second, the scammer called her Grandma, which is not the name we used for her. But when she was telling the story a few days later at the hairdresser, a lady in the next chair over said that she had received a similar call and believed it, but when she went to Western Union to wire the money and told them the story, they refused to do it for her and told her to call her grandson on the phone first just to make sure. Lord bless those Western Union employees in the high senior population neighborhoods.

            3. AnonEMoose*

              Someone tried that on my mother. Problem: my oldest nephew (I don’t have kids) isn’t even 10 years old yet. I think Mom basically hung up, or maybe she played with him for a bit, but either way, he got neither money nor useful information.

            4. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

              They tried that on my grandparents! They almost fell for it, they got as far as going to the drug store to use the western union transfer thing at Rite Aid, and the staff person who was helping them realized it was a scam, and fortunately intervened!

              Surprise surprise, my cousin was not in trouble in Costa Rica

            5. AKchic*

              Sometime tried it on my grandma. My grandma was quite insistent that it was my cousin, who was known for his DUIs. Of course, the scammer ran with that information since my grandmother so helpfully supplied it in the call.

              I already knew my cousin wasn’t in jail (hi facebook) and tried telling her it was a scam. “Why would your cousin try to scam his grandma out of money?”. It’s not Cousin. “but he confirmed his name!” BECAUSE YOU GAVE HIM THAT NAME. It’s not him. It’s some stranger that called trying to cheat you out of money. Stop answering phone numbers you don’t recognize! That’s why you have caller ID.

              To this day she insists that my cousin tried to scam money off of her by lying about being in jail and nobody can tell her otherwise. That particular cousin hadn’t talked to her in years and lost her number.

            6. EvilQueenRegina*

              When I was at university, my grandmother once got a reverse charge call. She declined it, but then panicked afterwards in case it had been me calling with some emergency. So she rang me and I didn’t know anything about it.

              As I said to Mum when I was telling her about it later, if there really had been an emergency my grandmother was about the last person I would have contacted because she would have panicked and would have been the relative least likely/able to provide any practical help. I’d have to have really exhausted all other options before I’d gone to her. If she’d got one of those scams, I can see her believing it initially, although I don’t know how far it would have got – maybe she would have either called me, or either of my parents first, but I can see her falling for it in the beginning.

            7. EvilQueenRegina*

              I know I came across something like this while researching scams after the Stephen Amell incident I reference below, where someone had responded to one of these grandson calls with “Charlie?”
              Scammer: “That’s right, it’s Charlie!”
              Grandmother: “Well, that’s funny, since I don’t know anyone called Charlie.” *hangs up*

            8. Self Employed*

              Someone tried to impersonate my ex-husband for probably scam purposes via Facebook Messenger. I know his writing style well enough I would probably recognize it if he posted here under a pseudonym and his job story was about something that happened after I left our friend group. So it was really obvious when the scammer was using English that was clearly not their first language, let alone how my ex writes. I started trying to ask questions about things I figured wouldn’t be guessable from my FB profile etc. and he deflected. I was 99.99999999% sure it wasn’t him or I wouldn’t have done this: I asked how his little brother was. “he is fine but what is wrong with you? why are you asking so many questions?”

              My ex’s younger brother had died of a stroke years earlier. Absolutely not my ex on that chat!

              Blocked and reported.

          3. Jack Russell Terrier*

            This is why it’s so important to give no personal details unless you’ve initiated the phonecall – and separately validated the phone number.

            I was implicated in the Equifax data breach, where one of the main credit rating companies had a lot of person info go awol. While I was sorting this out, I had several voicemails saying the were from the credit card fraud department. Every time, I called the main 800 number for the credit card. It was a huge, time consuming pain having to be on hold, have rep not understand etc and finally get put through to fraud where – yup, they’d called me. Yet it was worth it to make sure I wasn’t getting scammed.

            This is *The* only time, I’ve been phoned by a person from a financial institution. Any other time, I’ve had a robocall asking me to call. This is a great way of trying to train people to focus on initiating the call.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          They can also be a violation of federal tax law – I’m surprised anyone thinks this is a good idea with the notoriety gifting tables gained from “Murder on Middle Beach”. The two women at the heart of that one went to prison for tax evasion and wire fraud, to say nothing of the money they spent on lawyers leading up to their incarceration.

        3. meyer lemon*

          The reason is that scammers understand human nature, perhaps better than people who think that we tend to run on logic and reason. Scam victims aren’t necessarily particularly foolish or gullible people, but scammers have ways of exploiting weaknesses and hitting us in a vulnerable moment. On some level, we all like to believe that we’re exceptional, that we would never fall for a scam, and that makes us dig ourselves in deeper.

        4. Anon for Today*

          Oooh, did you watch Murder on Middle Beach? It was about a woman who was murdered and was also one of the founders of the “Gifting Table” pyramid scheme in Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was fascinating how it started and became this massive web of fraud.

      2. Roy G. Biv*

        “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” – The motto of the School of Hard Knocks, which I attended in my teens and twenties.

      3. Artemesia*

        I don’t understand why anyone would think an overpayment and them sending money back would make sense as anything but a scam. When I was selling furniture on Craigslist I got a lot of those. When I got the ‘our agent will drop the check and you can send us the excess’ I just said — ‘have your agent cash the check and he can pay me in cash’ — never heard from him again of course. Because important clients in Asia really wanted my used furniture.

        At the very least a ‘deal’ where they pay you a large amount and you remit part of by your own check sounds like money laundering at minimum.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          In the case of my friend she was unemployed at the time and was desperate for money. Losing the money hurt a lot, the bank let her pay it back in installments. But she had to report it to the police which added another layer of embarrassment to the whole situation and they lectured her about scams.

        2. Self Employed*

          I got one when I was selling body parts from my old car. She was out of the country but she really, REALLY needed some white VW Passat doors and her agent would give me a check and blah blah blah. (Because people who can afford international travel and have agents to handle their business while they’re away drive 20 year old family cars and buy used parts off Craigslist for them? Riiiiight.) I responded that NO, my ad said NO CHECKS, she could use PayPal.

          Then she got confused about who she was scamming and started talking about a pony for her daughter and that she would send her agent to get it. I guess the person with the pony got a response about car parts…

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      I would just let it go. And if it does come out that he scammed her feign shock, but don’t say anything unless she does..don’t even bring him up.
      I’m afraid that what’s going to happen is if LW says anything the boss will get angry, and get even angrier when she figures its a scam and take it out on you.

    10. Lizzy May*

      This. I used to work as a bank teller so I’d run into people being scammed all the time. Sometimes I could talk people out of secret shopper scams or housing scams since they weren’t that invested yet but romance scams were basically impossible. By the time someone was wiring money, they were in too deep to be talked out of it.

    11. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve been hit up by catfishers like these a few times – similar profiles to the one described by OP1. One even used a profile photo that I recognized as Paul Hollywood from the Great British Baking Show — don’t try to catfish me with photos of celebrities I recognize!

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        I stopped playing Words with Friends because I got five requests in three days from widowed oil riggers who were “managers” of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and the the Florida keys respectively. They each were raising a daughter. There was a “soldier in a war zone” who needed me to buy him iTunes credit so he could “get wifi” continue playing our game.
        And the guys in the northeast US, widowed grandfather raising his grandson because his daughter died.
        Did I mention these all hit in less than a week?
        My real friend, another woman asked why I stopped playing her. I explained. She kinda chuckled cuz she didn’t get that even though she used a variation of of her typically female name, too.
        I told her, add a pic (I’d used a cartoon with my same name just before the dam broke) She posted a cat. Boom.
        And that is in a game, not an app dedicated to people active looking to partner.

        1. many bells down*

          I’m just very happy to know that I’m not the only woman who gets these guys ALL THE TIME in a freaking scrabble app.

        2. Red Boxes and Arrows*

          I got a friend request from a guy on Fitbit. My profile is locked down and there’s no picture of me, so I think he found one of my posts in the “Women over 50” forum. I accepted the request because, whatever, I’m always happy to do step challenges and I don’t care who the other competitors are.

          He messaged immediately, saying he was new to Fitbit because his adult children had just given him a tracker, and asked where I’m located and what I do for a living. I told him that I’m happy to talk fitness and Fitbit with him but that he didn’t need to know where I live or my job title or anything else personal about me.

          He wrote back with a non-apology and said he’s from [my state] but is currently way out in the ocean off the coast of Norway on an oil rig and wanted a fitness buddy. Then he asked how my day was going.

          In my head, I was like, “Dude, you’ve got a few dozen other people on that rig to exercise with; you don’t need a 50-something woman thousands of miles away to help you out.”

          But I replied with, “Again, I’m happy to answer questions you might have about Fitbit or using the app.”

          The next several messages from him were just, “Hi! How’s your morning?” and “How are things with you today?”

          I never replied. Because he’s either a scammer or a boundary-violating idiot. Or both.

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            “I just want to talk about the game”
            “So what us the origin of your name?”
            Aaaaaannnd block

  2. EPLawyer*

    OP1 Not your problem to deal with. If it has an impact on work you can raise that impact. But your boss’ personal life is her business. No matter how much she shares with you.

  3. WS*

    LW #3 – I’m a crier, unfortunately, and I would be happiest if I was just left alone to get it over with, as you did with your employee. I’ve sometimes said, “I’m sorry, I tend to cry easily, please give me a moment and I’ll be fine,” which is true. Sometimes I’ve been given the moment and then been fine, sometimes the person in question has been very solicitous which makes it worse! If you’re worried, you could check in later – preferably by email or text, whatever is more usualy for you, so she’s not put on the spot – to see how she’s doing. But in the moment, ignoring it is very helpful.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. I think that in this case, because it was apparently the first time it happened, it would have been fine to check up on her after the meeting, even in a phone call. But this is definitely something the OP needs to discuss with their report. The important thing would be to make the crying a non-issue as far as possible and to ensure that the crying won’t make the manager either unable or unwilling to give critical feedback when necessary.

      Some people cry very easily. Normally I don’t, but I’ve noticed that if I’m exceptionally stressed I do. I’ve cried at work a few times in my career and I guess I was lucky in that I’ve always been able to schedule some time off quite soon afterwards.

      1. Artemesia*

        Since the cryer is feeling personally attacked by the problem situation, I think you can check up and commiserate about the problem rather than her crying. e.g. of course she is upset — you are upset too about the communication errors which led to this — and you reassure her that while it is upsetting you understand it is not her error here but yours.

    2. Ivy*

      Yes, please ignore me when I cry! I’ll be able to get myself together much faster than if you draw attention to it. Being nice to me will just make me cry harder. If I need to excuse myself to “use the restroom” let me do that.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I also think any of us who are more prone to tears in normal times are within a whisker of crying all the time, given The Plague.

      Clara did well to go off camera when she did. I think this is a sign she doesn’t want to make a fuss, so if LW does check in it should be brief and light.

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        I agree with this. Lately I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat, over things that would not have made me cry before. I started crying the other day in a taxi because the driver went the wrong way. Normally I would just correct the driver – it was no big deal and I didn’t think he was trying to cheat me. Covid is causing everyone a lot of stress and for some of us that means more crying.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Agree, COVID is causing horrible amounts of stress. I’ve noticed stress in my colleagues and certainly in myself, to the point I keep pulling up my 401k balance and wondering “is this sufficient to retire on?” I have a really good job and a fantastic supervisor but the government project I support has serious problems (these existed pre-COVID and are exacerbated by present circumstances) and I’m exhausted of dealing with them.

          One thing my supervisor has done, is ask me to fill in temporarily on another project. I can’t wait to start – it will be something fresh. OP 3, are there small changes you can make among your team to break the monotony? Switch assignments, cross-train? Small projects that have been on the back burner? Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

      2. Shhhh*

        Yes, I cry about everything in normal times, so right now I’m a complete mess.

        In a new-ish job, I wouldn’t mind my manager checking in the first time. What I would (and did) tell her, though, is that I often have an outsized physical response, that it’s something I’m actively working to control, and that the best thing to do when it happens is to ignore it because it’s easier to get it under control when attention isn’t drawn to it.

        The pandemic and working from home has actually been really great for me in that area – when I feel it coming on, I can just turn off my camera. If I know I might get emotional in a meeting, I plead internet shakiness at the beginning of the meeting and turn off my camera to “preserve bandwidth”.

      3. Threeve*

        What I would really want is a boss who just said “don’t feel pressured to keep your camera on in meetings.”

    4. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I think that’s fine if your boss knows that about you. But if OP doesn’t know that about Clara, I would err on the side of checking in privately.

      Being upset and feeling embarrassed that someone noticed isn’t as bad as being upset and feeling ignored, alone or like no one cares about you.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s exactly it. Some people don’t want to be checked in on, but there are other people who, if no one checks in on them, will feel that’s callous — “I was obviously upset and no one even cared.” As a manager, I’m more concerned about avoiding that second outcome.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        I don’t know if I’d say it’s never the case — if people draw attention to it, it can feel like you’re being mocked or othered or judged, even if that’s not their intention; in which case, people ignoring it/acting like it’s no big deal might be preferable.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For what it’s worth, my eyes also well up when I’m angry. It made me a bully magnet in middle school. We’re not common, but we exist. And yes someone not specifying the job well causing my team an OT rework phase would make me very angry.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Oh yes, my tears are of the “I’m so fu*king pissed right now” variety! I do work to control it but its a physical response, or feels like it is. I’d appreciate one check in but ignoring it helps it stop.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Same. Its my body’s response when all other options are inappropriate (I can’t say what I really want to for whatever reason, I can’t punch someone who greatly deserves it, etc.).

          1. Chilipepper*

            I actually said what I wanted to say once at work and no tears! But the thing I was saying was, “wait, you manage by focusing on the emotions behind our reasonable work based requests, that’s . . . not a good idea.” But I did not say it quite like that. Then I realized that I needed to cry to make them take me seriously, so I cried. And now I don’t care at all and so don’t get angry and so I don’t cry.

            It is amazing what happens when people tell you who they are and you believe them.

      2. Marsupilami*

        Similar here. Being treated unfairly is the major trigger for me – being criticized for something I could not influence would definitely fall in this category – though it would take repeated instances of this from my boss before it would rise to the level of tears for me.

        I am also on the “please ignore my body’s reaction – I am already embarassed enough – let us just continue the conversation and not draw any more attention to it.” side. I am still thinking clearly in these situations, I just have problems controlling my voice/eyes!

      3. Tabby*

        I’m one of those. It’s pretty much a rule in my family: “If Tabby’s eyes are welling up, you’re about to catch fire and brimstone.”

    6. CM*

      I agree, involuntary crier here too (not like huge sobs, but tears might come to my eyes) and I appreciate when people just ignore it and continue. I’d appreciate a check-in later especially if the tone was not “omg are you OK, you seemed really emotional,” but rather, “Hey, I want to make sure you know I really value your work and have no concerns about your performance. This kind of issue is expected once in a while. The important thing is that we identify issues and fix them.”

    7. MCMonkeybean*

      I agree. As a person who cries easily and feels extremely embarrassed about it, I would have wanted OP to ignore it if I were in Clara’s shoes.

      Checking in afterword would likely be a little awkward but might be a good idea since this is the first time this has happened. I strongly disagree with Alison about maybe saying something it because it was a group meeting though, I think that is extra reason NOT to say anything!

      1. JessicaTate*

        I agree, although I don’t think Alison was saying, “Ask her what’s wrong during the group meeting.” But because it was a group meeting, find a reason to end the meeting ASAP, and then check in with her privately. I would strongly agree DO NOT call attention to it in a group meeting. That makes it 1000 times worse, because it’s like a spotlight.

        I’m also a crier – in response to any strong emotion – and hate when it happens at work. As a result, I very much prefer the polite fiction of “allergies are acting up.” I get it if a new boss would want to ask about it once, but … if there’s a way to approach it in terms of the work problem and understanding — rather than the crying part — that’s also productive. Like, “Clara, I just wanted to follow-up to say, I know how much pride you take in your work, and it did suck that we got this pushback. I could tell the whole team was frustrated. But I want to reiterate that it’s not your fault, we have a path to fix it, and if there’s anything about the process or situation you want to hash through with me, my door is open.” Like, empathize with the emotion as a shared experience, but don’t call out the tears, and pivot to the work problem.

  4. WS*

    I grew up in a town which was a base of operations for offshore oil platforms, and now live in another one which is the same, just in a different area, so I’m very surprised to hear that oil rigs are a common fake job for catfishers. It makes sense, though!

    1. many bells down*

      Yeah I’m some kind of weird magnet for these guys (I’ve even gotten them on Words With Friends – and I’m married!) and common jobs they claim are the military, or a doctor with some international organization, or offshore oil rig engineer. I’ve seen a friend of mine fall for one as well.

      It’s going to be pretty impossible for LW 1 to convince her boss but I sure understand the urge to try.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I started playing online scrabble and was amazed how many “hot guys” tried to start conversations with me, I was immediately suspicious and definitely reported a few.

        1. Collarbone High*

          I reluctantly stopped accepting any requests from male-sounding names because the vast majority either immediately hit on me, negged me or bombarded me with angry messages if I didn’t respond right away.

      2. school of hard knowcs*

        I play WWF, I ignore any chat requests. Either they keep playing or drop the game after a few turns. I have played with strangers … some of which, I’ve played with for years. We are just here for the game. Blandly ignoring them is the fastest way to get rid of them

    2. Jenny*

      I have a cousin who is an engineer who builds oil rigs and used to spend a ton of time away and out of the country before he got married. He met his wife online too because of the challenges of dating during his onshore time. So A) she may not 100% be catfished but B) they probably pcied it because it can be true and because those workers do make a lot of money (it’s pretty miserable work so they have to pay well).

      1. hbc*

        Depending on whether OP can pull it off, I wonder if a story like that isn’t an opening to plant a seed. “I was just thinking, my friend’s* cousin works on oil rigs, and he says it was hard for him to online date because so many scammers claim to have that job. I guess it helped that he would never ask a girlfriend for money and scammers always eventually do.”

        Basically, if OP can sound like she believes that the boyfriend is legit, the manager won’t feel foolish-by-comparison when she puts the pieces together.

        *We’re all friends here, right?

        1. Anonym*

          That’s a good approach, if OP really wants to try. Just some interesting info, not an attempt to crush the boss’ dreams. It may be a helpful puzzle piece if/when things start to look iffy to her.

        2. AthenaC*

          ^^ This is wonderful advice. Maybe throw in a dash of, “I’m so happy you found each other!” especially given the challenges a legit oil rig worker would have among a sea of scammers. Just to be a little extra disarming.

        3. Artemesia*

          I can’t believe people think this is subtle. The boss will immediately know you are suggesting she is stupid enough to fall for a scammer as she always dislikes and distrusts the OP. She should not touch this one with a ten foot pole — not her circus.

          1. AthenaC*

            I mean – hbc was clear that the delivery has to be spot-on and sound genuine. She can’t do that passive-agressive frenemy-type delivery.

            You may be right, but you also may be overestimating the boss’s perceptiveness to that sort of insinuation.

    3. Tired of Covid-and People*

      It’s because these jobs require workers to be away from home for long periods of time. The catfisher has a built-in excuse for not being able to meet in person within a reasonable period of time. They can also claim spotty cell and internet service as reasons for inconsistent communicating. Ugh.

      1. many bells down*

        My personal favorite is when they’re “fighting the Taliban”… in Nigeria or Oman or someplace that isn’t Afghanistan.

      2. Emma*

        It’s also usually a setup for the eventual request for cash. Some variation on “I’m stuck in [foreign country], my wallet was stolen, my colleague who lives here offered to buy me a plane ticket home but he can’t cover the cost, can you send him the money and I’ll pay you back as soon as I get home?”

        Or some other thing – lost passport, customs are being unreasonable, w/e – paired with some reason why they can’t pay themselves (lost bank card, card locked due to travel, can’t make international calls to the bank).

        Ultimately, they often need a reason to get you to either send or receive money to/from a foreign account, and that’s less believable if they’re on the same soil as you.

    4. Clisby*

      I wouldn’t have thought of it, either, although I can see the reasoning. I once knew a guy who worked on an oil rig off Louisiana – I think it was 3 weeks on the rig, 1 week off, every month. This was pre-cellphones, but for sure his availability for meetings, etc. was severely limited.

      I’m on Team Mind Your Own Business, by the way.

  5. Ginger ale for all*

    I work with someone who got catfished. He lost most of his life savings. His friends and family tried to tell him. The supervisors tried. His pastor, the police, bankers, etc. He finally wised up when he was asked to sell his truck and send the proceeds once he had drained his bank account. Once people knew what was happening, they all called on one another trying to intervene. Your boss most likely has close friends and family who are doing the same. I think you can step back on this one unless your boss truly has no one in their life to help.

    1. allathian*

      And even if they don’t have anyone, the OP has no obligation to try and help a nasty person. If the awful boss gets into trouble, it’s their fault because they’re so awful that nobody wants to risk getting hurt by trying to help. They don’t deserve any better.

      1. Violin Player*

        The letter doesn’t state that the boss is an awful person, though. From what we’re told, they’re a bad boss and lack people management skills: that doesn’t automatically make them a terrible person who deserves to suffer.

      2. LGC*

        That’s…pretty uncharitable. So you’re saying that unpleasant people don’t deserve to be warned they might lose all their money to a scam?

        1. Julia*

          No, but unpleasant people/scary bosses can’t expect someone whose livelihood depends on their good graces to go and risk said livelihoods.

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            Exactly. This good deed would most likely not go unpunished as this boss would probably react negatively towards OP for telling her.

        2. Wintermute*

          “Deserve” doesn’t enter into it, only cause and effect. If I put myself in a position where I punish people for correcting me, the natural consequence of that behavior is one day I may embarrass myself because no one was willing to stand up and face punishment for correcting me before I made an embarrassing mistake.

          That said I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes, unpleasant people deserve unpleasant consequences. The universe is rarely fair, but when it lines up that way I’m very happy it does. Being unpleasant to people is no benefit to yourself and hurtful to them and people who increase the amount of misery in the world deserve that misery to land at their doorstep.

        3. Artemesia*

          she is the boss; she should be smart enough to not get hooked into an obvious scam — if the guy is legit, he won’t be asking for money — if he is a scammer, he will. The OP is not obligated to damage her own job situation to alert this grown woman who if she is smart enough to be her boss ought to be smart enough to not send money to strangers she met on line.

          1. LGC*

            …well, this thread got a bit of heat!

            Replying late, and replying once (but I think this covers everyone) – but I just object to the generalization that allathian posted – that because the boss is a “nasty person,” they don’t deserve to be warned that they might be scammed. It’s easy for me to say (since I don’t have to deal with LW1’s boss), but…it struck me as enjoying her possible misfortune because she’s a bad boss.

            For what it’s worth, I also don’t think LW1 is obligated to tell their boss in this case – you’re right that LW1 is in a vulnerable position, and also LW1 sounds uniquely unqualified to tell their boss about this. (And finally, LW1 could be wrong and it could be for real. Stranger things have happened.) So I guess I agree on the answer, but wildly disagree on the road taken to get there.

            Finally…specific to your post, I don’t think that being “smart enough” comes into play with regards to scam victims. Lots of “smart people” fall victim to scams (in general, if that’s not clear) – it’s not just gullible fools. We’re all susceptible in our own ways.

      3. BHB*

        Where in the OP does it say the boss is a nasty or awful person? Yes, they don’t have the best relationship and the boss clearly has some problems with management and communication.. and that might make them a bad boss, but that doesn’t make them a nasty, awful person who deserves to be scammed.

        I agree that OP should probably butt-out of this situation to preserve their own livelihood, and that there’s a lot of chances for it to backfire on OP especially if the boss doesn’t accept what the OP is saying. However, your comments here and further down the page about the boss being a nasty, horrible person who deserves what’s coming to her feel quite vindictive and don’t seem to be based on anything we’ve been told in the original letter.

      4. Mockingjay*

        OP 1 says that they and boss are trying to build a better relationship. That’s not an awful boss/nasty person, just someone without good communication skills who is making an effort. And that lack of communication skills is likely why the OP thinks boss is vulnerable to catfishing.

    2. Tired of Covid-and People*

      See Lana and David on 90 Day Fiance. Some people won’t let go of the dream and subscribe to the sunk cost fallacy.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Oh man, I could write a wall of text on David! Any time people would push back with him, he’d just double down and push back harder. PS happy to find another 90DF fan here.

    3. Joielle*

      Yeah, I came down here to say the same thing. If the boss is excited enough that she’s telling her “least favorite employee” about this guy, she’s certainly also telling her actual friends and family, who are much better positioned to do something about it.

      1. Weekend Please*

        I agree. The OP doesn’t even know for sure this guy is a scammer. It’s a common scam but she has no evidence. If she recognized the guy in the picture or something like that which would be more concrete, then it might be worth saying something. Someone who has a history of reacting poorly to hearing things she doesn’t like is not going to react well to being told that the OP thinks her boyfriend is fake.

        1. many bells down*

          I read it as her Google search turned up multiple images of the guy’s pictures being used on different sites with different names. For example there’s a neurosurgeon in Brazil that’s a favorite of these dudes; I’ve seen him as many as 4 times in a week on different platforms with different names. One of them is following my Tumblr right now.

          1. Weekend Please*

            I would be more inclined to speak up in that case. I was interpreting it as she found out that masquerading as a guy who works on an oil rig is a common scam.

  6. Sylvan*

    OP5: Alison’s advice is good. I also transferred between freshman and sophomore year and I put only “BA in Draconology, Esquith, 2013.” It’s fine.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      Yep. I went to community college for three years and university for two. I just put my degree from the University. There is no need to mention how you got to the end point, just that you got there. I might put some relevant coursework that did not result in a degree separately, but really unless I’m completely changing industries I probably wouldn’t bother.

  7. L6orac6*

    #1 Do it, please tell her, you said she’s not big on your opinions. Do it anyway. She either take it the way you want her to, or not. Hopefully it prompts her to google this, as you said this is a current scam. It’s horrible, just because someone is lonely, they are vulnerableto falling for this sort of thing.

    1. allathian*

      There’s no reason for the OP to do this, and any number of reasons why they shouldn’t. The boss is unlikely to take this well, especially given the poor relationship between them. And when things end up going south, who’s going to take the flak for it? OP. This is one time when it’s perfectly fine to act out of pure self-interest and say absolutely nothing. So what if the boss is lonely? She’s a horrible person to the OP and probably to others as well, and frankly, deserves no better.

      1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I agree with you that OP should act out of self-interest here, which probably means staying quiet.

        But your characterisation of the boss doesn’t align with the description in the letter. I also think it’s problematic to believe that others ‘deserve’ horrible things in life simply because we don’t get on with them.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Why are you repeatedly saying that the boss is a categorically horrible person and therefore undeserving of any help? They have a bad working relationship and she obviously has some bad traits as a manager, but that does not add up to “horrible person”. Does she really deserve to fall victim to a scam because she’s got a bad attitude as a manager? This is really black-and-white and weirdly vindictive towards a person none of us know beyond a short letter.

        1. Wintermute*

          It’s not about “deserving” it’s about the natural consequences of making it hard for people to talk to you and tell you things. Trying to admonish your boss is a risky thing, and could have severe personal consequences, if they’ve proven unlikely to change and likely to treat you poorly you’re entitled to protect yourself first.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            “She’s a horrible person to the OP and probably to others as well, and frankly, deserves no better.”

            “It’s not about “deserving””


            1. Wintermute*

              What I mean is that whether she “deserves” to lose money is immaterial. When you make yourself hard to give advice to, you won’t get good advice, this is simply cause and effect. Actions have consequences, the consequence of behaving poorly towards people that try to give you information is you may lack information.

              It’s not about the LW making a moral judgement about whether this person deserves to have this happen to them, it is merely a matter of protecting herself and dealing with the known situation in front of her (boss doesn’t take advice well) and the logical course of action in that situation (therefore I’m not going to try to give her advice).

      3. The Other Dawn*

        It doesn’t say anywhere in the letter that the boss is a horrible person. Just because an employee and a manager don’t have a great relationship doesn’t mean one of them is horrible or nasty. It might just be poor communication, a personality clash or something else.

        1. Self Employed*

          Therefore the boss probably has other people in her life who can tell her about catfishing without worrying about getting fired for being impertinent.

    2. Sherm*

      But the OP’s finances matter, too. If the boss does not take it well, and as a result the OP is denied growth opportunities or is even shown the door, it could wind up costing the OP more than this potential scam would cost the boss.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, it’s like telling someone their partner is cheating on them – only do it if you’re willing to endure the backlash.

        In this situation, the boss controls the OP’s livelihood. Worst cases – the boss fires the OP, and refuses to be a reference, or the boss makes the OP’s life a living hell until the OP quits (without reference or unemployment insurance). Note that the worst case does not depend on the boss believing the OP – it’s entirely possible that the boss could believe the OP, break up with the catfisher, and fire the OP for being the bearer of bad news and witnessing her naiveté and subsequent embarrassment.

        1. TechWorker*

          I don’t think OP is under any obligation to tell her boss, and yes it’s *possible* boss would fire her for being right.. but is it likely? OP mentions that she struggles with how her boss manages, there’s no indication that she’s a mean or vindictive person…

          1. Scarlet2*

            Even if OP isn’t actually fired for this, there’s a very high risk this will strain their relationship further and make, at the very least, OP’s situation uncomfortable. The boss takes basically everything as a challenge to her authority, so I really don’t think she’s going to it take well if her employee tells her they think she’s falling for a scammer…

            1. Forrest*

              Yes, this is my concern. The boss could be a genuinely lovely person, but telling your employee about the guy you’re all excited about and then having to admit you were scammed is *so* humiliating. It would take a really heroic amount of professionalism NOT to associate OP with that crushing humiliation and not let it colour your view of them.

              1. Yorick*

                I could see myself unconsciously avoiding my employee who told me this, out of embarrassment, whether I believed them or not.

          2. pancakes*

            Not necessarily mean or vindictive, but markedly insecure: “She often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority…” For this reason it’s very likely that telling her anything that challenges her credulity about her new romance would go very badly.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          POSSIBLE backlash. Some folks like me would appreciate the information, especially if it was first-hand and not just gossip.

          1. EPLawyer*

            SOME people would. But those who would are not those who take every question as a challenge to their authority.

            I can see it going like this:
            LW: Uh Boss, I googled oil rigs and catfishing. I think you are being scammed.
            Boss: What do you know? OF COURSE I was careful and checked him out before we moved forward (which she will say whether she did or not). Do not tell me how to run my love life, I am older than you and I know what I am doing.

            Fast forward to Boss finding out she is being scammed: Damn LW was right. I can’t ever let her know I will never hear the end of it. She will assume everything I do is wrong and that I am stupid.

            Even if Boss doesn’t fire OP for being right (and people have been fired for that before), they already have a strained relationship. This will only strain it worse.

          2. Antilles*

            Sure, some people would appreciate the information.
            But someone who “takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority” is almost certainly not one of them.
            At least not from OP anyways; it’s possible Boss is perfectly willing to listen to advice from other sources, but the OP/Boss dynamic just doesn’t seem like it’d lend itself to the Boss actually listening dispassionately to OP’s information rather than either (a) getting pissed at OP and/or (b) dismissing it out of hand.

          3. Observer*

            POSSIBLE backlash. Some folks like me would appreciate the information, especially if it was first-hand and not just gossip.

            The OP does not really have an obligation to risk a even a moderately possible backlash. But in this case, it’s more than “possible”, it is highly probable.

            Also, the OP does not have any solid or first hand information. I think that they are probably right in their suspicions. But all the OP has ARE only suspicions, not hard “first hand experience.”

        3. CM*

          Telling someone their partner is cheating is a great analogy here.
          OP already knows that when they’re the bearer of bad news — even a neutral work issue — Boss gets upset.
          I think even mentioning this issue to somebody else in the office, in hopes the info will get back to Boss, is not a good idea for this OP. It could so easily be misconstrued as the OP spreading rumors or trying to make Boss look bad. Boss has already shown she has no interest in OP’s opinions. I would stay far, far away from this.

        4. Jessica Fletcher*

          The worst case is that LW makes this accusation and is proven wrong, making her the office loon who made a wild accusation with no evidence, and drawing her boss’s ire plus harming her reputation.

          She doesn’t say she specifically knows he is lying. She only thinks his picture is suspect and she found other articles about oil rig catfishing. But people do work on oil rigs, and she doesn’t know this is a lie in this case.

          She doesn’t even say this guy asked her boss for money. I think a lot of people are imagining more than what LW told us she knows.

      2. Emma*

        Some studies put the average loss to a victim of a romance scam at about $16k, which is more than most people will lose due to losing their job.

        1. Self Employed*

          It’s very unfortunate that people will throw that kind of money away on romance scams, but just because LW is likely to lose less money by having to change jobs if Boss gets mad at her for criticizing her and her boyfriend doesn’t mean LW has a responsibility to risk losing her job over her Boss’s bad life decision. Boss is an adult and LW is not her conservator or even a person whose opinion she takes seriously on actual work stuff. If Boss were typically good about accepting feedback it might tip the balance, or if they were peers instead of boss and subordinates. But this isn’t an emergency where LW is the only person who can prevent a terrible accident by putting herself in harm’s way: presumably Boss is gushing about this guy to other people in her life and they are as aware of catfishing as we are.

    3. Snow Globe*

      If warning the boss would prevent the boss from becoming a victim, I’d agree, but I think it is highly likely that the boss won’t believe the LW, and may just dig in harder on hearing LW’s opinion. What would be the point of that?

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Exactly. OP can’t be the one who tells the boss this message.

        Though I would be someone else in the boss’s life tries and then we’ll see how she reacts to THAT.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There’s only one thing worse than watching this unfold, in my mind.
      And that worse thing is when you tell a person to watch out AND they totally ignore your warning.

      OP, try to figure out what you will do when she ignores your warning. It’s very hard to stop respect for the person from sliding downhill.

      Your best approach might to be to ask thinking person type questions. “Oh so when do you get to meet each other in person?” or “When will he come here to visit with you?” You can probably google and find a bunch of ideas on what to ask.

      This can put you “on her side”. Some times the way to show people out of things is by going IN to it with them.

      1. Yorick*

        This is the best way to do it, if you want to do something. But wait until she brings him up again.

        Another question to ask is about video, since refusing to do a video call is a big tip that it’s a catfish.

        1. Jaydee*

          I like that! It’s easy enough to ask about in the sense of general curiosity about how online dating works with a pandemic and long-distance stuff.

      2. anna*

        I think this is great advice – let people come to the conclusion themselves, its much more effective. OP would only be asking pretty normal questions.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      Even a jerk doesn’t deserve to be a victim, but the workplace dynamics makes this risky for the OP. I do get the feeling of doing the right thing and saving the manager. But, due to the relationship, there isn’t a way for this to go well for the OP. Either the manager believes the OP and gets pissed because the OP made the manager look like a fool, or the manager doesn’t believe the OP and gets pissed about the accusation.
      The only reason I would step in is if the manager says they are sending a big sum of money, selling their house to send money, or some other major debt generation scenario. Then I MIGHT take the risk of asking to see more pictures of the guy and then building speculation with, “I wonder why he only send you two pictures? You should ask him for a selfie today” or anyway I could lead her maybe see the scam for what it is.
      I wouldn’t risk my career over it.

      1. Observer*

        Even a jerk doesn’t deserve to be a victim, but the workplace dynamics makes this risky for the OP.

        Exactly. I do feel bad for the boss, but I also believe that the in this situation the OP does not have an obligation to do anything.

    6. MistOrMister*

      Based on the relationship with the boss I would absolutely not say anything. Further, unless I’m missing something in the letter, it is not clear that the boss is being catfished. It is perfectly possible that the person is who they say they are. Or even if they aren’t, that doesn’t mean they’re trying to scam the boss out of their life savings. Regardless, given how the boss acts towards OP, it is not in their best interest to say anything. I might feel differently if OP knew for a fact that something hinky was happening. Buy maybe not. Still, if all the have are suspicions, they are not obligated to say anything.

    7. Observer*

      She either take it the way you want her to, or not.

      And what happens if it’s “not”? With some bosses I would say try anyway. But given this particular boss’ behavior, I think it really is not fair to put this burden on the OP.

      The Boss is not monster and does not “deserve” to be scammed. But that doesn’t mean that the OP needs to take a significant risk to rescue the boss.

    8. Jessica Fletcher*

      I agree with Alison that LW should keep quiet, since the boss has a history of taking even legit work questions as a threat to her authority. Telling her would absolutely go wrong for LW.

      And. What exactly would LW be warning her about? “Hey, I have no specific information that your beau is lying to you, but other people have been lied to about this?” LW doesn’t say she has specific knowledge of a catfish. She doesn’t say she found his pic on articles about catfishing. She merely thinks his pic is suspect, for no specific reason mentioned here, and Google says this is a way other people get catfished. But some people really do work on oil rigs!

      The worst case scenario for LW is not “makes this totally unsubstantiated, nonspecific accusation about her boss’s beau, boss takes it personally and treats her badly at work.” The worst case scenario is “LW makes this totally unsubstantiated, nonspecific accusation about her boss’s beau, *beau is proven truthful,* and now LW is the office loon who accused a guy she knew nothing about of lying on a dating app.”

      Keep quiet and move on, LW.

    9. Librarian1*

      I think it’s too risky for the OP to do this. It sucks that it’s happening, but I don’t think it would be a good idea

  8. Bob*

    LW1: I agree with telling her in principle and hate to see scammers win as it encourages them to escalate their scamming. That said i don’t see how you would do this without it backfiring on you. Hence you do need to try and find someone else if you can who is not vulnerable to being the messenger who is killed for doing the right thing.

    And bear in mind that she likely will not listen to anyone you find to tell her, its rare that anyone says “you are right its obviously a scam”. Typically its “your wrong, how can you be so mean to me and malign my hardworking, honest boyfriend”.

    Sometimes telling people they are being screwed strengthens their resolve to make that mistake. And sometimes even after the scam unfolds they refuse to accept it and go into denial.

    So do what you can but then drop it. If you can’t find someone else to be the messenger, drop it. If you can, let them do their thing then drop it. Either way protect yourself.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I do have a success story about this! A few months ago, someone emailed me at AAM to ask advice for his girlfriend. He said she was working in a foreign country and her boss was refusing to pay her for her work because she refused to sleep with him, and her company was refusing to pay her hotel and food costs … and she had nowhere to stay and no money and was starving, and “I don’t have enough money to keep supporting her.” I asked if he’d ever met her in person, he hadn’t, I told him it was almost definitely a scam, and he actually seemed to accept that. I was pleased it was so easy to unmask (but obviously that will not always be the case).

      I am interested though in how so many people end up not balking when those requests for money from a person they’ve never actually met come through.

      1. a sound engineer*

        There’s a podcast called Easy Prey that has a pretty interesting episode that covers this

        1. JM in England*

          The BBC also ran a Daytime TV series on the topic. One tactic they covered was to do a reverse image search on the dating profile photos. One such search revealed the picture to be that of the president of a minor country. Also common is that the scammers say they are in the military or work abroad a lot to explain why they are absent for long periods.

          1. pancakes*

            Not familiar with the series, but I want to recommend that people doing a reverse image search also flip the photo horizontally and search that as well. It’s a quick and common way to alter an image.

        2. Pauli*

          Another podcast on a related topic if people are interested! There’s a great episode of the Modern Mann podcast where they talk about people who get in deep with “psychics,” who scam them out of tens of thousands of pounds. Very interesting discussion about how even people who believe themselves to be very smart and logical, can get drawn into financial scams, and why they’re so hard to prosecute. The interview is with an investigator who goes after the scammers.

      2. Bob*

        Nice. It is rare that people will accept that they were duped because its also their pride being wounded. And sunk cost.

        My guess is that people fall for it because they want it to be true, they may have found what they convince themselves is a serious relationship and think that the money will make it work. Just a little more. Sometimes its desperation, or a convincing story, maybe playing knight in shining armour?

        It seems from what i have read that they start like a normal relationship and act very kind and attentive to hook people in and then their “life circumstances” change and they need money. Perhaps its like a distant family member who “needs help”?

        Though i can’t personally fathom it, i spend very judiciously that i don’t loan others money unless its a gift and i don’t usually give monetary gifts, i give advice, financial planning, debt counselling and so forth but rarely cash. And loans are not typically repaid so i would help someone apply to a bank but if the bank considers them a credit risk then i have even less reclamation resources then them so its really not in my interest to believe i would get a loan repaid.

        Okay, now i’m writing a novel (my apparent true calling from your link to your old article in yesterdays writing jobs post ). It would be interesting to debrief some people who fell for this scam and figure out why and if we could find a way to keep others from falling for it.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          “Loans are not typically repaid”.
          Best bit of financial advice I was ever given – don’t lend what you cannot afford to lose.
          (Same also goes for gifts and gambling, including investments, but I don’t want to derail further)

          1. Antilles*

            I actually go further than “don’t lend what you can’t afford to lose” all the way to “don’t lend, period”.
            I’ve just found that the mere fact of calling it a loan introduces weird stressors to the relationship – if they don’t pay it back immediately, they act worried/nervous about it, it becomes a weird elephant in the room, etc. Even if I don’t actually care about being paid back and tell them not to worry about it, they still feel guilty and act awkward.

        2. Smithy*

          Even when it’s not romantic, and just financial – I think that pride is a huge factor. I often think of the apartment postings that seem “amazing but within the realm of possibility” – and the owners live outside the country, so just wire them first month’s rent and they’ll send you the keys.

          When I’m in the US (where I was born), such a listing was never hit my radar. But when I was a young adult, living overseas in a country where my grasp of the native languages was such that I was already vulnerable for such a significant business transaction like securing an apartment….those posts were tempting. That mix of something that seemed easy, that looked amazing, that could prove how well I was making it on my own, blah blah blah.

          In its own way, it’s no different than catfishing in that there’s a romance of how good our life could be. That we can have the amazing apartment, we can get $1000 for our used couch, etc. And it can be deeply embarrassing to find out that you believed that fantasy was true. Like being the last person in class to discover Santa wasn’t real.

        3. Artemesia*

          I have known two people over the years that got essentially scammed by live people they dated e.g. paid their child support because the guy was short and would have legal consequences if it wasn’t paid etc etc. And then end up dumped losing thousands they of course never see. Any time money changes hands in a relationship prior to marriage there is a large possibility that a user is at work.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            I’ve stopped dating/seeing several people over the years because within the first month they asked to borrow money. It sounded legitimate, truck registration fees so they could keep working, prescription meds that they needed before their insurance kicked in. Yeah, that’s a no from me.

        4. nonegiven*

          There was a person on Reddit the other day who had a mother in her 60s get involved with a scammer. She
          managed to get the bank account frozen before he got any money. She had actually talked her mother into believing it was a scammer earlier, but he kept emailing her and hooked her again into giving him her info, luckily she had little money, anyway. Pretty sure that one was dementia.

      3. MK*

        I don’t know that it is “so many people”, statistically speaking, it’s a numbers game. The thing with internet scams is that they require almost-zero financial output from the scammer and can be run against dozens of people at the same time. A scammer like that probably contacts hundreds of people every week; even if a tiny proportion of them rerspond, an even smaller number fall for it and only a couple end up sending money, it’s still worth it to them. It’s a bit like asking out every single person you meet, regardless of age, gender, etc; no matter how lousy your game, you would probably get a couple of dates.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yep, exactly this. It costs them basically nothing to contact hundreds/thousands of people and if even one pays off…

      4. Weegie*

        If anyone’s interested in exploring this further, look up the work of Monica Whitty, who has researched the romance scam extensively – there are some YouTube interviews with her, and although most of her papers are on academic publishing sites that require (mostly) subscription logins, the abstracts are freely available and give a lot of detail. I’ll post a link to one of her fully available papers in a reply to this post.
        A friend of mine was caught up in one of these scams years ago. At first he refused to believe me when I tried to enlighten him and was argumentative, so I went looking for evidence, found a website with one of Monica Whitty’s early papers on the subject, and that was enough to make him Google his scammer’s name and find loads of warnings about her posted by previous victims. Disaster averted.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Thanks for that, I had a similar experience once where I had trouble convincing someone, I will read that when the link’s out of moderation – I did try to do some research at the time but don’t remember coming across that name.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          In the google era, it is so much easier to perform due diligence that folks who don’t even do a simple reverse image search amaze me.

      5. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Con artists are oh so persuasive and have spent hours grooming their mark. They know how to feign a feeling of intimacy despite never having met the mark. Good people find it hard to believe that there are people out there like the scammers, who capitalize on that goodness and the desire to “help”. No one likes to see anyone walk into a fire, but whether it is a MLM, dating scam, or any other misleading exploitative situation, unless the target is a minor or incapacitated, there’s nothing you can do except report to the police or appropriate government agency after the situation comes to a head. And let these awful online dating companies know too. It’s a shame they let anybody on their platforms and have no liability for the awful situations that result.

      6. Observer*

        I do have a success story about this! A few months ago, someone emailed me at AAM to ask advice for his girlfriend.

        I think that the key is that he had already reached out to you in the first place. So he’d already accepted that you probably know a thing or two that he doesn’t. And he already knew that SOMETHING was wrong, albeit in a totally different way.

      7. SomeoneElseToday*

        There is a university professor in Saskatchewan, Alec Couros, whose photos are regularly stolen and used by catfishers to entrap people. He writes some about why people fall for it, how it affects him (and his family), and how sometimes people can be deflected from the rabbit hole. But it’s not only sad for the victims; he spends time and emotion corresponding with people who’ve been taken in by stolen pictures. Unfortunately most of those are after a lot of money has vanished – happily not all.

        One thing that may help is a reverse image search, if a possible victim shares a photo with you. They may flag in a reverse search as catfish bait, but more often you will see them attached to multiple names and accounts. Catfishers will often use the same half-dozen photos again and again and a reverse search is pretty easy.

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      I’d just ask ”when do you guys plan to actually meet to see if the connection is great in person, he sounds like a real catch!” just plant the seed that they haven’t yet met…

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I strongly disagree with the advice to bring another colleague into it. I wouldn’t do it. Not even if they already know some details, not even if you trust them to be discreet.

      Even in the best, most delicately handled situation it could so easily be misconstrued as “Jane thinks your new guy is a scammer”, where you get painted out as an office gossip trying to undermine her happiness. Don’t do it. Not only is it disrespectful to discuss/speculate on people’s private lives behind their back (despite the good intentions you have!) but it’s a disaster waiting to happen with someone you have this kind of relationship with.

      Own your concern, and either bring it up to her directly – privately, and with great compassion – or make your peace with keeping it entirely to yourself.

      1. Observer*

        I strongly disagree with the advice to bring another colleague into it. I wouldn’t do it. Not even if they already know some details, not even if you trust them to be discreet.
        Own your concern, and either bring it up to her directly – privately, and with great compassion – or make your peace with keeping it entirely to yourself.

        Yes. Either speak up or don’t. Don’t rope anyone else into this.

    4. Cat Tree*

      Part of the problem is the stigma of being scammed. Our culture is very victim-blamey when it comes to scams, and there’s a strong stereotype that only old and/or stupid people could ever be duped. So it’s not surprising that people don’t want to admit being a victim of a scam, even to themselves.

      Taking that into account, the best way to help someone is to bring it up in a non-threatening way. Even there is even a perceived whiff of “how could you be stupid enough to fall for that”, even if you don’t intend it to come across that way, they will be much less receptive.

      Recently my mom got something in the mail that looked like a bill for life insurance for a few hundred dollars. She’s at a point where her finances are transitioning from just her pension plan, to partly covered by social security and Medicare. So she is expecting to see bills from new places and didn’t think to be suspicious. And I don’t think this was technically even a scam. I think she genuinely would have had that life insurance policy if she paid for it, but she really didn’t need it. So I mentioned that it seemed odd because I didn’t remember her getting a bill like that before. That was enough for her to realize it was a sales pitch instead of a bill and she ripped up the check instead of mailing it.

      1. londonedit*

        I think this is definitely what’s behind people’s reluctance to admit they’re being scammed. I’ve read a few consumer advice sites and any time a scam is mentioned, you get rafts of ‘Well people shouldn’t be so stupid, these scams are obvious, I’d never fall for it’. But the problem is, plenty of people do fall for them, and it’s precisely because the ones that work have just enough believability to suck you in. I’d never fall for an email from a Nigerian prince, because that’s as old as the hills. But I did almost fall for a text ‘from Amazon’ that said there had been an unauthorised login on my account. The link took me through various stages of ‘verification’, including asking me to pick out which of three products I’d bought in the last 30 days (one of them was indeed something I’d bought), and it was only when it then asked me to verify the card I’d used to make the purchase that I metaphorically slapped myself around the head and called my bank to cancel my card. Stupid? Yes. But I was distracted at the time, on the tube on the way home from work, and for some reason I didn’t twig until way later than I should have done.

        There’s also one that I’ve never told anyone about in 20 years, because I’m still embarrassed. Back when I first moved to London, aged 18, I was wandering around Covent Garden one day when I was flagged down by a couple of really cool-looking people with a big camera. They said they were from a model and TV extra company, and they were out and about recruiting new talent. They said I had a great look, and they asked if they could take a load of photos of me and put me forward to possibly be signed up by the agency. Well, I was stupidly flattered, I was a student at the time so the thought of extra money was enticing, and everyone’s heard stories of famous people being scouted while out and about in London. I gave them my phone number, and they gave me business cards with their website and info. I looked it all up when I got home and it seemed really polished (again, this was 20 years ago, but it looked good for the time!) so when they called me a couple of weeks later and said congratulations, you’ve made the cut, we want to put your portfolio on our website, I was thrilled. They said I could have my picture and basic details on the website for nothing, but if I really wanted to make sure I was picked for modelling and TV work, I should sign up for their premium listings, where my details would be shared with agencies across the country and they’d proactively go out and recommend me to their industry contacts. Again, I was insanely flattered, and so I duly forked out £99 of my student loan for a three-month trial. Pretty much as soon as I’d done it, I felt like it might not be quite right, but my flatmates had all heard me talking to these people on the phone and they were really excited, and being 18 I had no real idea how to deal with something like that – I assumed that seeing as I’d agreed to pay the money, that was it, I had no chance of getting it back (and to be fair I probably wouldn’t have done). Anyway, sure enough there was no sign of any modelling or TV work, the company was totally unresponsive, and I just quietly never mentioned it to anyone again. Now, I’m angry with those people for preying on impressionable teenagers, but at the time I was mortified and kept beating myself up for falling for it – how could I possibly have thought I was attractive enough for modelling work in the first place?

        1. Cat Tree*

          You don’t even have to go to consumer sites; there’s plenty of victim blaming elsewhere in this thread.

          In the interest of reducing stigma, I’ll share when I was almost scammed. I had just bought a house for the first time after renting my whole life. I made a point to educate myself about the process, but there is just so much new stuff that I was suddenly responsible for. That made me a vulnerable target, and since real estate purchases are public record, it’s easy for scammers to get a mailing list.

          So when I got mail to arrange a water inspection, it seemed legit. I had never been responsible for my water supply, so it seemed standard along with my actually legitimate water bill. So I called to set up an appointment. They actually didn’t have any time available on their schedule, which leads me to think that plenty of other people also responded to this scam mail. The lack of ability to schedule months in advance was the only thing that tickled my scam senses, and I finally googled it (not something I would normally think to do fur a water/sewer bill, for example). That’s when I found out that the free consultation/inspection is a way to get into your house and hard-sell you into buying expensive and unnecessary water purification system, which naturally requires expensive replacement filters forever.

          I’m not sure if I would have given into the hard sell and I like to think I wouldn’t have. But it would be so easy to fall for. There are constant ews stories about unsafe drinking water, so it would seem plausible when the inspection fails. It also plays on my efforts to be a responsible home owner, and if I had kids at the time it would play on my desire to protect my children. I’m a highly educated professional and I was in my 30s and very tech savvy at the time. And I was still almost scammed. It can happen to anyone.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Actually, I totally understand the 20yo you. I answered a ‘looking for models’ ad in college, for a photographer who specified he was looking for ‘local nonprofessionals’ in our college town. I was curious to know if it was an option. Get there, and he looks pleased (5′ 10″, 155lbs, blond hair, regular features). Takes a few pictures. Then he asks if I’d be willing to do some ‘artistic’ photos. Without clothes.

          oh. DUH! I’m an idiot. And I’m outta there.

        3. Roci*

          “how could I possibly have thought I was attractive enough for modelling work in the first place?”
          This sentence is why it works :(

          Scammers target people’s vulnerabilities, their insecurities, their generosity and kindness. We want to help, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, we want to feel loved and beautiful and kind. They take advantage of that and the shame of being fooled keeps us from the truth.

          1. Self Employed*

            I almost got caught in a “modeling school” scam when I was about 25. My ex was a photographer so when I saw an ad recruiting models for an agency I thought it would be fun to try out. Well, they needed me to pay $20 or so for the makeup tutorial and the headshot (which came out gorgeous, I give them credit for that). Then they said I had lots of potential… but I’d have to spend a LOT of money on modeling classes and pay to be listed in the directory yada yada. I took it seriously enough to buy a bunch of makeup (and a big pink Caboodles tote that I still use for sewing stuff) but luckily my other photography friends pointed out that legitimate agencies don’t charge you to work for them. (My mother thought it was a bad idea for some other reason, but my mother thought everything was a bad idea and her reasons didn’t usually hold water, so I didn’t pay much attention.)

            If this had been more than a whim, and I had always wanted to model, and I didn’t have friends who definitely knew this was a scam, I might’ve paid for those classes. Especially if the only person being critical had been my mother and whatever her reason was–probably something about supermodels using drugs or something. OK fine Mom, but if I’m more likely to be the woman using a product in a print ad, I am not really concerned about the jet-setters. It definitely matters who delivers the message you may be getting scammed.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        And part of it is plain old ordinary loneliness.

        My penny-pincher father, who was outright stingy with myself and my sister when we were growing up, actually cosigned a car loan and a credit card for a woman he’d met, a few years after Mom passed. He ended up not out too much money, but that was sheer luck rather than good management.

        Sis and I were within a millimeter of starting competence proceedings. It was just SO out of character for him. He’s been okay since, but wow, those were not a good few months.

  9. Mad mad me*

    IDK, I’m not the nicest person in the world and I’ve never had the greatest relationship with managers, but even I would try to find a way to let this poor woman know she might be a catfish target. Can’t you send her an anonymous note with the info attached? I think it’s sad that just because you’ve had issues with this person in the past, you’d let her twist in the wind and possibly get bilked out of money from this scammer–or worse. No way would I sit idly by and figure she deserved a horrible outcome like this!

    1. allathian*

      I’m not the nicest or kindest person in the world either, although I’ve usually had pretty decent if not great relationships with my managers, with a few exceptions, and those managers were always horrible to everyone rather than just me. But this is absolutely one of the rubbernecking situations where I’d just sit back and chew my popcorn and figure the horrible boss had it coming. I’d certainly not do anything that would likely just backfire on me.

    2. a sound engineer*

      With an anonymous note, my worry would be that the boss (who is already prone to seeing things as a challenge to her authority) would try to figure out who had left it… Also, since it was told to the OP in a check-in, and not a group meeting, it’s not necessarily common knowledge in the office, and if that’s the case then an anonymous note would be pretty obvious.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes – the boss will of course have a sense of who she’s talked to about her new relationship, and whether that’s three people or a dozen people she would almost certainly try to narrow down the possibilities of who sent the note.

        I also don’t agree that it’s a foregone conclusion she’s “twisting in the wind.” It may be that she has just enough sense to not send this person money. It may even be a real relationship. Etc. All that we know for sure is that she doesn’t handle being challenged well at all. For that reason the letter writer should not get involved in whatever is going on here.

    3. DEJ*

      I had a coworker who was in a crazy long-term catfishing situation a number of years ago. Several of my coworkers and I got together to send an anonymous note with information that we had found. My coworker ended up asking the catfisher about it and the catfisher ended up making up that they had gotten a note as well, and played it off that it was a conspiracy to break them up.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      They are most likely going to believe their “boyfriend” over an anonymous note.

      The reason to stay quiet isn’t because they have a poor relationship. It’s because there’s to much chance that it will go poorly for the OP.

      1. Aggretsuko*


        I am no longer friends with someone because her liar fiance started making up shit about my SO at the time and me. She bought everything he dished out. They got married and as far as I know are still together, shudder.

    5. MilitaryProf*

      Telling the boss, or asking a coworker to do it, pretty much guarantees the boss will blame you for the new information. However, rather than sending an anonymous note (which pretty much carries no weight with anyone, and it is often pretty easy to figure out who the author is), consider printing out the articles (no handwriting) and sending them to the boss at the work address, through the USPS. Don’t send it from the post office closest to your home–if the boss is obsessed with finding out who sent it, that will be an obvious clue. Far better to send it from the post office closest to work. And don’t hand-address the envelope–you need to type up the address and print it. If you have reverse-searched the image, and found that it’s a common one online, put the details of that in the package.

      If the boss ignores your efforts, you’ll have a clean conscience. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll have total anonymity. With any luck, this will allow the boss to have a bit of introspection about her situation, without the embarrassment of having it pointed out by a subordinate. And, she might even comment on having received such a package to others, who then might offer their opinions on things. (Your response should be “that’s odd,” or something similarly banal–don’t use it as an opening to give yourself away.)

        1. MilitaryProf*

          I’m sure it could feel that way. But, based upon the OP’s original inquiry, here are the governing factors:

          1. She thinks the boss is being catfished.

          2. She fears retaliation if she tells the boss her fears, even if she’s doing so for altruistic reasons.

          3. She doesn’t want to see the boss get catfished, even though they’re not particularly close.

          I’m all for other suggestions of how to convey the information to the boss, in a way the boss might accept, that can’t rebound back upon the OP. If the OP is willing to risk the retaliation, she could openly discuss it. If she’s willing to accept the guilt she will feel (even if it’s misplaced guilt) if her fears turn out correct and she does nothing–well, then she can do nothing. But, if she doesn’t want the retaliation and she doesn’t want the guilt, this solves both of those problems.

          1. nona*

            If the solution reads as creepy, then it’s not a great solution and you probably can’t get everything you want. It sucks, but this isn’t OP’s issue to solve.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        I think this would come across as extremely creepy and kind of threatening, to be honest – it’s like saying to this woman “I know who you are, where you work, and who you’re dating”. If the warning comes in such a creepy manner, she will likely disregard the content and feel watched in her place of work.

        (And can you imagine what would happen if the OP got caught? Convincingly faking nonchalance isn’t easy! If this boss reacts badly to simple workplace interactions, how would she respond to catching OP sending her creepy packages telling her she’s dating a scam artist?)

        1. Self Employed*


          Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to narrow down the list of suspects to the LW. If she brings it up to her friends, and they will obviously be credible in their denials because they didn’t do it… sooner or later she will remember blabbing about her oil rig boyfriend to the LW in a 1:1. And LW is probably going to give away her guilt if confronted.

      2. Roci*

        I would definitely believe my text-only long-distance boyfriend over an anonymous letter with articles about catfishing in it.

        And I’m not sure how acting mysterious and veiled about your intent is supposed to clue someone into the fact that someone else they trust is being mysterious and veiled about their intents.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      I understand where you are coming from, but there is no upside to the LW trying to get the boss to listen to her.

      – The boss will not listen to her since the boss doesn’t want her to be right. The boss will take this as another example of the LW trying to prove she knows better.

      – The boss does not want to be embarrassed in front of the LW. If LW is right, the boss will be mortified and take it out on the LW for making her feel even worse.

      There is no way this LW can be of help and has to let this go. People who are in the midst of self-delusion don’t even listen to family and close friends. Such people will not listen to a subordinate (or coworker) they do not like. LW’s involvement will not change the outcome. It will only add to the drama and harm the LW.

    7. Observer*

      Can’t you send her an anonymous note with the info attached?

      This is worse than not saying anything. By a LOOOONG shot. It won’t work and it’s just mean.

      I think it’s sad that just because you’ve had issues with this person in the past, you’d let her twist in the wind and possibly get bilked out of money from this scammer–or worse.

      This is not about “bad history” with the boss. It’s about the very real risk to the OP.

      No way would I sit idly by and figure she deserved a horrible outcome like this!

      That’s a figment of your imagination and oddly judgemental and blamey to the OP. The OP does NOT in any way indicate that they think their boss “deserves” to be scammed. In fact, the reverse is the case. But they have a problem because going to the boss IS a risk to them. And it’s a risk that the boss caused.

  10. Laure001*

    I think it would be the moral thing to tell the boss that there is a good chance she might be catfished. I think I would, and damn the consequences… But I’m writing this from a nice apartment with no rent or mortgage, my children are grown up and I am financially secure so… I do understand the danger if you’re not in a safe situation!
    Is there room for a compromise, OP? Maybe trying once in a super sweet way, not confronting her, but saying enough to instigate some healthy doubt. Like saying… I don’t know, like, “I was at a dinner yesterday, and someone mentioned a situation similar to yours, and it was catfishing, and she recognised it because and because…. Boss, you’ve taken every precautions right? I am so so worried about you.” Then the boss will rant that of course she did, you say, oh, great, I am so relieved…. And you let it go. But despite her denials the boss will now have the possibility in her mind and with luck she will begin to verify the claims….

    1. Sue*

      I suggested something similar above. I do think there is a low risk way to drop the information without directly challenging her “relationship”.

      1. Dee*

        And personally I feel like a lot of that isn’t taking the LW’s second sentence into account. (or that um, the given examples of low risk.. if they were said to me I’d be likely to see through them pretty quickly.)

        1. Laure001*

          I totally understand. OP knows best and if she knows her boss is going to react harshly whatever she tries… Well.
          But maybe something more subtle than what I wrote there? Playing “worry and friendship” more than “come on, it’s a scam.”

          1. Self Employed*

            Except she’s NOT a close friend with the boss. The boss is hostile over routine work stuff and just happened to get chatty about Mr Oil Rig one day.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I’m with you, Laure001, but also like you, I am sitting in a pretty good seat to be able to do it. I could retire today if I wanted to and am financially sound. Your script is a good suggestion, I think.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I feel really conflicted here. If it was “just” a one-time scam whet the boss is out a few hundred dollars for a pointless and unusable insurance policy or some promised item that turns out to be junk, I’d probably let it go. But a catfisher could drain her entire savings and leave her destitute. Nobody deserves that. I think I would feel obligated to at least try to warn her, even if she is unlikely to believe me. It would be hard to watch someone’s life get ruined while doing literally nothing. But it’s hard to know what I would actually do if my career would be put at risk by doing anything.

      1. pancakes*

        Nobody would drain their entire savings for someone they’ve never met without being wildly overly credulous, either. I’m not trying to suggest that they therefore deserve to be taken advantage of; I just don’t agree that all that’s required for this to happen is acquaintances being unable or unwilling to intervene.

        1. Cat Tree*

          Can we please just not victim blame people who get scammed here? That isn’t helpful to anyone. If you must do it, at least take it somewhere else on this thread.

        2. Purt's Peas*

          Absolutely agree on this:

          “I just don’t agree that all that’s required for this to happen is acquaintances being unable or unwilling to intervene”

          BUT totally disagree on this:

          “without being wildly overly credulous”

          Everyone’s got their scam, the one that would really get them. It’s actually not that scam artists are complete masterminds and ultra manipulators (though I’m sure some are, that gives these bad actors a little too much credit). It’s that people are ultimately pretty simple; most people are vulnerable at least once in their lives; and con artists are completely unscrupulous.

          I really think it comes down to good fortune whether a specific scammer’s fishing trip for a mark happens to dangle in from of you when you’re not vulnerable, or with a bait that you’re generally resistant to, or with a scam that’s only intended to skim a bit rather than fleece you for all you’re worth.

  11. Pinkpeony*

    Almost every job I’ve applied for that requires to enter in all my resume information separately requires a start/end year for the education entries. I am so over listing my irrelevant community college degree and just wish to list my BS, but it would mean putting that I went to that school for 2 years, and I wouldn’t want to misrepresent either. Unfortunately ATSs require so much information and you can’t proceed without entering it (I’ve even had them force a response for current salary – illegal in my state!)

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I have always put the date I started college and the date I graduated on the same school I graduated from even though I did transfer after my first year; those classes are on my transcript and it’s never come up in an interview or a background check. It’s like they ask, but never reference it.

      I am on person, though, so experiences may be different in other fields/geographic area – I have been primarily east coast and mid-south.

    2. PT*

      This. I took my year of graduation off my resume like Alison said is customary, and got a dressing down from the next HR rep who interviewed me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She must be giving that dressing down to 70% of the candidates she talks to, because about 70% of the resumes I see no longer have graduation years.

        Applications that ask for detailed dates and accountings are obviously a different thing.

  12. WTF advice*

    OP1 If your boss was being robbed would you not call the police? In this day and age it is so easy to set up an annonymous email and send your boss a warning. Have we lost all moral values? What kind of a person sees something like this happening and says do nothing?

    1. Allonge*

      Ok, but there is a lot of diffence between definitely being robbed and maybe being scammed. I don’t know if calling the police in this case would do anything: what do they do about my boss has an out of state boyfriend? Whereas, for a robbery, they can actually intervene.

      1. WTF advice*

        My advice is to try to warn the boss, not call the police. From a moral standpoint it is the same as not calling the police when you see a robbery.

        1. Scarlet2*

          Well, the main difference between seeing a robbery and LW1’s situation is that they only have a suspicion that the boss is being scammed, no hard evidence. And beyond the problems that speaking up are likely to cause between LW and their boss, it’s very unlikely that the boss is going to hear this from an employee she already has a strained relationship with and just go “oh you’re right, he’s totally a scammer, thanks for letting me know!”.

          1. WTF advice*

            There is no hard evidence that the boss would react negatively to being warned about catfishing. They might be grateful to OP1 for warning them. And OP1 can warn them annonimously. I am curious what your advice would be if the situation was for example if OP1 suspected that her boss was physically abused? Would you say the same thing? Don’t get involved, you don’t have hard evidence that abuse is being commited? Or would you tell them to speak to the boss?

            1. Scarlet2*

              From the letter: “She often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority”. I’d say it’s highly unlikely that someone who reacts badly to work questions is going to take “hey, I think you fell for a scammer” very well.

              If I suspected my boss was being abused, I don’t believe my telling her “I think you’re abused” would help anything… It’s notoriously hard to intervene when someone is a victim of abuse or anything similar, including from friends and relatives. Most people dig their heels when confronted with that kind of intervention and often shoot the messenger. You can’t help people against their will.

              1. WTF advice*

                So, you would do nothing. Let the abuse happen. What else would you let happen? Where do you draw the line between doing nothing and taking action? You are basically saying this might have bad consequences for me so I won’t do the right thing.

                1. Scarlet2*

                  No, I’m saying it’s useless AND it’s going to have bad consequences for LW.

                  And by the way, if you think you “intervening” in an abuse situation without the victim’s consent is useful in any way, I urge you to reconsider.

                2. pleaset cheap rolls*

                  @WTF Advice:

                  You’ve done some rhetorical aerobics with these three statements:

                  “There is no hard evidence that the boss would react negatively to being warned about catfishing.”

                  “From a moral standpoint it is the same as not calling the police when you see a robbery.”

                  “Let the abuse happen.”

                  There is no *hard evidence* that abuse is actually going to happen or that telling her would actually help.

                3. Managing In*

                  Fallacy!! There isn’t an objective “right thing” here. There’s a big gray area which has created an interesting discussion.

                  The objective thing here is that your examples aren’t, objectively, the same as LW1’s situation and reactions or advice to your example scenarios will, rightly, be different.

                4. Myrin*

                  1. There is no such thing as “the right thing” in a situation like this one.
                  2. I’m pretty sure people quite often don’t do something that would have negative consequences for them, even if it could potentially be positive for someone else. I don’t think it’s wrong for people to think of themselves first.

              2. Reality Check*

                @Scarlet2 I agree with you. One time years ago, my SO was leading a double life behind my back & someone tried to warn me. I was an idiot and shot the messenger. Later on I found out the hard way they were telling the truth.

                Another time I tried to warn someone in a similar situation, and this time it was my turn to be shot as the messenger. She later found out for herself that I was telling her the truth. And it was my boss I was trying to warn! Cost me my job.

                If I were in OP’s situation I probably wouldn’t bother. Lesson learned.

            2. Allonge*

              I think in a case of abuse, the outsider would have some evidence of the abuse, it’s just that part of the abuse is making the abused person think that the abuse is normal. In this situation the employee could say ‘I am concerned about you, this is not ok’, if the relationship allowed for it – but there is no guarantee for success.

              For this maybe-catfishing, there is no evidence at all. Sure, this is like one of the schemes, but there are actual legit people who work on oil rigs and they must want significant others too. This is something that you would mention to a friend (ha, you and Paul sound exactly like this thing I read about catfishing). But with a boss who can fire you or determine your carreer otherwise, and is not known for listening, there is way too much at risk for the person reporting – and still no guarantee for success.

          1. WTF advice*

            This is some very skilled mental aerobics you are doing here to convince yourself that no action taken is the right thing to do, even to the point of negating that the abuse is being commited. You are basically saying I’ m gonna ignore warning signs of abuse so that I can continue living my life while still feeling like I’m a good person.

            1. NYWeasel*

              Have you ever actually dealt with anyone who is in an abusive situation? Or any situation where their behavior is ill advised and likely to hurt them in the long run? It’s very easy to say that unilaterally you need to tell them to stop because morally you have an obligation to “protect them”, but it’s very VERY difficult to get your “principled approach” to actually achieve the objective of protecting your friend/loved one. More often than not, a direct confrontation pushes the victim away from you and closer to the abuser, and sets up a situation where the victim feels like there’s no one other than the abuser who is truly on their side.

              IME, people who are in an objectively bad relationship (or making awful choices) are fully aware of it at some level, but emotionally are so invested in the direction that they don’t listen to reason, and can get quite combative when challenged. Is it truly better to tell them up front and push them further down that road? Or is it better to gently influence and plan to be there to help when they come to their senses?

              Furthermore there are the occasional (and yes, rare) situations where the observers are dead wrong. When I was dating my husband, he said some hurtful things to me and we broke up a couple of times. Everyone around me was furious on my behalf, and wouldn’t listen to the mitigating circumstances that I tried to explain—I wasn’t mad at him at all because he’d been very honest and upfront and as sad as his blunt statements made me, I appreciated that he was sharing his truth rather than pretending he was in a good place. People were furious that we got back together and told me off in many ways, but I knew that he had finally worked through his demons. We’ve been happily married for over 20 years now, and the naysayers all admit now that they were completely wrong.

              In this case, as someone who isn’t even close to the boss and only has a handful of facts to work with, the odds are slim to none that OP can thread the needle and influence the boss without further misreading or aggravating the situation. If you’re most likely to make things worse, I don’t think there’s any sweeping ethical or moral directive to take that particular action.

              1. WTF advice*

                To answer your question: yes, I have.
                The answers you are giving are don’t do it because:
                1. You don’t like your boss
                2. It might not be true
                3. It might impact you negativelly
                4. It might be true but your actions might not help
                So, let us se what happens if OP1 warns her boss annonimously:
                1. It wasn’t catfishing, so no harm done
                2. It was catfishing but her pointing it out to her boss saved her boss from longlasting consequences
                3. It was catfishing, but her pointing it out didn’t help her boss because she wouldn’t accept it
                Don’t see why OP1 shouldn’t annonimously warn her boss.

                1. Allonge*

                  What would you do if you received an anonymous note (at your workplace or not) that your boo is a scammer? Would you not try to figure out who sent the note? More importantly, would you even consider listening?

                  Look, I have zero issues with your decision to warn the boss if it were you, good for you for following moral principles to the point of willing to be fired. Seriously. A lot of people cannot afford to be fired for something that might be a normal love relationship.

                2. disconnect*

                  “Don’t see why OP1 shouldn’t annonimously warn her boss.”

                  Then maybe you should read one of the myriad responses as to why the potential negative repercussions for OP outweigh the potential benefits for OP’s boss. Lots and lots and lots of people have given nuanced answers as to why they would recommend OP not pass this information to their boss. It doesn’t invalidate what you’re saying, but there is a lot of gray in this situation, and I think most of the people saying “don’t say anything” have given reasonable explanations as to their recommendations.

                3. Esmeralda*

                  Well, first of all, I don’t see how the OP can warn the boss anonymously about a personal relationship. Possible, but I’m not seeing how to handle that. But even assuming it’s possible:
                  1. It wasn’t catfishing, so no harm done — harm possible and likely, because this is the OP’s boss, who already does not like getting negative info. Harm goes anywhere from: relationship is extra awkward to boss avoids OP to boss doesn’t help or promote or develop OP to boss fires OP (less likely, but non-sero chance)
                  2. It was catfishing but her pointing it out to her boss saved her boss from longlasting consequences. Same harms as #1, and frankly, more likely because now boss is embarrassed
                  3. It was catfishing, but her pointing it out didn’t help her boss because she wouldn’t accept it. Same harms as #2

                  And, my own response to the OP’s original letter is that they’ve made quite a leap from “I’m getting to know a guy who works on an oil rig” to “Scam!!”

                4. Observer*

                  So, let us se what happens if OP1 warns her boss annonimously:
                  1. It wasn’t catfishing, so no harm done
                  2. It was catfishing but her pointing it out to her boss saved her boss from longlasting consequences
                  3. It was catfishing, but her pointing it out didn’t help her boss because she wouldn’t accept it
                  Don’t see why OP1 shouldn’t annonimously warn her boss.

                  Because those are actually not the outcomes.

                  The MOST likely outcome is that the boss does NOT take the advice coming in an anonymous email, but is very hurt by it.

                  Less likely, but definitely possible, is that Boss figures out who sent the email, and retaliates against the OP.

                  There is no likehood that the boss will actually act on an anonymous email.

                  You are going through some real hoops to try yo create a moral obligation for the OP to take a real and significant risk that has no real chance of actually benefiting anyone.

            2. Lady Heather*

              The thing is though that there isn’t even an indication. They’re dating someone who works on an oil rig. That’s it.

              According to surveys (in the 90s) from the the National Center for Woman & Policing, 24-40 per cent of police persons admit to being violent towards their spouse and/or children. Do you talk to spouses of police officers to warn them they need to get a divorce and not leave the children alone with the officer, as well, when there is no actual indication of abuse going on?
              (Or did you/would you have, in the 90s?)

              1. WTF advice*

                You don’t talk to them and tell them to get a divorce if there is no evidence of abuse. You make a hotline available for people who are abused to be able to get help. You open safe houses. What you don’t do is ignore the abuse happening, especially if it happens in such high numbers.

                1. Julia*

                  OP isn’t keeping their boss from using those resources. But there is no evidence of abuse here, only a suspicion of a scam, and OP is worried about negative consequences to her if she warns the boss, who has a history of reacting badly to criticism. It’s not OP’s place to pursue this, so if she doesn’t want to, we shouldn’t blame her.

            3. Observer*

              This is some very skilled mental aerobics you are doing here to convince yourself that no action taken is the right thing to do

              Actually, the mental aerobics are happening on your part. You have a fixed world view that allows you to maintain a very self satisfied view of the people around you. And to maintain that worldview, you are really jumping to a lot of totally unfounded conclusions.

    2. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Yeah, this world has gotten stone cold. Even on this board, compassion is often sorely lacking.

      1. pancakes*

        People who regard “asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to [their] authority” are putting up a needless and daunting barrier to others behaving compassionately toward them, though. And I don’t think there’s anything generational about this. There have always been people who make themselves more or less unapproachable in this way.

      2. disconnect*

        That’s a pretty unkind thing to say to people who are making recommendations from their reading of the situation. Do you really think everyone saying “don’t say anything” is a heartless jerk who wants to see OP’s boss get catfished, or do you think that maybe most of those people are thinking something like “gee, it’s a tough situation, nobody deserves to be scammed, and OP does have some valid concerns, but if I were in this same situation I’d probably keep it to myself because of the potential negative repercussions to myself and my ability to continue to buy food and shelter, what a shitty situation all around”?

        Be the compassion you want to see, etc.

        1. Self Employed*

          I reread the letter, and although LW asserts as a fact that her boss is being catfished and could lose her life savings because “oil rig engineer” is a common cover story, Boss hasn’t actually sent him any money. As some people have posted, he could be who he says he is. And if he suddenly pivots from “I want to take care of you” to “Woe is me, I lost everything, send money” it’s possible that Boss will figure out he’s scamming her.

          It’s also possible she’ll see the same article LW saw on her own, or people closer to her will bring it up. (The way social media algorithms work, if she’s posting about dating an oil rig dude, it’s even likelier she’ll run into oil rig catfishing articles. Or more oil rig catfishers sending friend requests, or both.)

          I don’t think anonymous warnings are a good idea because it’s just so creepy.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Or it could be that people are showing compassion for the LW, who is in a tricky spot and has a lot to lose.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Anonymous email is unlikely to work. The boss believes the lie of the loving relationship and wants it to continue. People being scammed resist warning from close friends and family, they are not likely to realize they’re being scammed when an anonymous email sends them a link to an article.

      The LW’s boss already often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority. LW is unlikely to be believed if she shares such unwelcome news with her boss and could be retaliated against. There’s almost nothing to gain (by taking an action unlikely to change the boss’s mind) and everything to lose for the LW to tell her.

      And let’s all be honest here: it’s a pretty obvious scam once the guy starts asking for money. I vaguely knew that offshore oil worker was a common job in these scams, but you don’t need to know that figure things out once they start asking for money. The people who get scammed get taken advantage of because they want what the scammer is offering so badly despite all the alarm bells. I don’t think the LW has any chance of convincing her boss that she should be cautious about this. The LW is not respected by her boss.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. You can lead a horse to water, and all that. I think the most LW1 can do is drop a few things into conversation, as other commenters have suggested (‘Man I’m shocked, my mum’s friend just discovered the man she’s been speaking to online is a scammer, she’s lost $2000, it’s awful’ or whatever), and even then I’d limit it to one or two offhand comments. It’s awful watching someone being scammed, but I think it’s a one-comment-and-leave-it situation, or you risk the boss getting angry and defensive and making the working relationship even worse.

      2. Antilles*

        Nobody is putting stock into an anonymous email from some random gmail account. Nobody.
        There’s a chance it doesn’t even make it past the spam filter, there’s an even better chance the Boss doesn’t open it, then another chance that when the boss doesn’t get past the first two sentences before clicking away. Even IF the boss decides to read the entire thing, we’re then dealing with the normal human reluctance as others have described in detail to believe the worst of someone she’s fallen for.
        Sending an anoynymous email might feel like you’re at least doing something…but that’s just salving your conscience; if we’re talking about actually trying to make a difference, an anonymous email isn’t doing that.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Also… she’s going to figure it out. She doesn’t get along with OP, she shows OP the dating profile, then a short while later she gets an anonymous email telling her things she doesn’t want to hear about the dating profile. Who has her contact info, knows about the guy and (in her eyes) might want to undermine her? The list is not going to be that long. The same goes for anonymous notes, anonymous packages, whatever. She’s gonna know.

    4. CatCat*

      Oh get off your high horse. No one has to set themselves on fire to keep someone else warm.

      OP is allowed to prioritize their financial wellbeing over the boss’s financial wellbeing. That doesn’t make OP a bad person lacking in morals.

    5. biobotb*

      Wait, why would the boss give any credence to an anonymous email? Plus, how creepy would it be to receive an email from an unknown sender who has lots of information about her and her love life? Super creepy.

    6. Observer*

      OP1 If your boss was being robbed would you not call the police?

      What exactly is the OP supposed to tell the police? What exactly do you think the police will do? If you answered anything but “nothing” you are wrong. The police will absolutely do nothing.

      In this day and age it is so easy to set up an annonymous email and send your boss a warning.

      Sure. It’s easy to do. And, best case, it’s useless. Worst case it hurts both the OP and the boss.

      What kind of a person sees something like this happening and says do nothing?

      Someone who has no real power to change the outcome and who would be taking a high risk to try.

    7. meyer lemon*

      I totally get the impulse to warn the boss, believe me. I really wish that if the OP was able to bring it up in a compassionate way, the boss would take the warning to heart and reexamine the warning signs. But telling someone their relationship sounds like a scam is kind of on par with telling someone their relationship sounds abusive. The vast majority of people will not be able to objectively look at the facts and conclude they’re being taken advantage of–otherwise these scams would never work in the first place.

      1. meyer lemon*

        Adding to this–if I was the OP, my major concern in raising it wouldn’t even be possible retribution, it would be the chance that it could actually make the manager double down in her trust of this man and raise her defences against those who may have a better chance of getting through to her. It’s a difficult and sensitive thing to bring up with anyone you don’t know well or already have a rocky relationship with.

        1. Self Employed*

          Good point. Abusers want to isolate people from their support systems and reality checkers. I’d expect a scammer would also be happy to encourage a victim to ignore the mean jealous critics who doubt his love and honesty.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      This isn’t “would you call the police if your boss was being robbed?” it’s “would you call the police because you saw a moving van in front of someone’s house a few blocks away?” I wouldn’t, because I don’t know all my neighbors–and people who casually say hello or chat when they’re walking their dogs or see you gardening probably aren’t going to tell you they’re moving. So the call would have to be “I think there’s a robbery at 123 Main Street, because I saw a moving truck and wasn’t expecting it… no I don’t know the people who live there, but they have a very cute poodle.”

      In that analogy, the outcomes are something like (a) the police come and interrupt a crime, (b) the police come, interrupt legitimate movers, and possibly assault one of them and claim later that they thought he had a gun, or spin hesitation to drop everything and get down on the ground as resisting arrest, (c) the police come, see that all is well, and leave, or (d) the police don’t come.

  13. Allonge*

    So, LW3, I like your ‘I believe in accepting the blame for my team’s mistakes and giving engineers credit for our successes.’ in general, but I would like to say that from the perspective of your engineers, it would not help me one bit in this case? Not to tear up I mean.

    It’s a good policy for a manager and I would respect you a lot for it, but in this case still I just got back a project that was apparently all wrong and I am not (just) concerned about external blame, I still did something wrong. Which happens and I would get over it sometime, but maybe I had questions that I did not ask or maybe I did not focus enough on this thing or maybe I just hated the project already, or maybe none of these and I did my best and yet… and still, you are my boss and you just told me I did this thing wrong.

    Anyway, just to say that when you check in on Clara, please keep in mind that your taking the blame solves some issues but not all. And like Alison says, some people just tear up easier or have a bad day/year, and there is very little you can do to fix that.

    1. twocents*

      Honestly, I don’t know that a habit of taking “all the blame” is actually helping the employees. Like, were the requirements actually unclear, or was that a nice way to spin it to protect her employees? Negative feedback sucks, but I’ve seen coworkers who report to people that think they’re just the best thing and anything negative is 100% the fault of something or someone else… And then those employees really struggle because they aren’t learning and growing from those opportunities, and they eventually find that other managers won’t tell them that they’re perfect at everything; it’s been really sad to see that happen to a coworker/friend of mine and the huge blow to her self-esteem that’s resulted from finally being told she isn’t perfect after years of being shielded.

      1. LW3*

        Hi, I’m LW3. I really appreciate your feedback. I should clarify that I take the blame *externally* and in group settings but I do always let my staff know, one-on-one, when their work needs improvement. We’ve talked about what went wrong here, and I’m confident things will be better next time.

        1. Weekend Please*

          But in this case did you tell your employee “It looks like there was a miscommunication. You did a good job but it turns out that they actually wanted more detail and another format. I’m sorry I didn’t talk to the other team about the specifics of what they wanted sooner, but I need you to redo this for me.” Or did you tell her that the report was wrong and needs improvement but don’t worry you are taking the blame?

          If she did a good job but wasn’t given clear instructions, she should be told that. If she should have known what was expected and did something else and you “taking the blame” is more like you saying “You screwed up but don’t worry I have you covered” then I can see why she is upset (we all hate making mistakes) but I don’t think you need to really do more about it. From what you have described, she thinks it is the second case, not the first.

        2. JJ*

          I got the impression that the feedback and relaying of it was honestly pretty mild (personally I often get clients who don’t give me the right info/impression, so I give them the wrong deliverable, then they see what they forgot to tell me and we correct it, nbd). I am hoping she’s just overwhelmed/frustrated by the COVID world in general and this was a sort of “ugh one more thing to deal with” kind of involuntary response that deserves compassion.

          That said, if it were me I’d keep an eye on how she reacts to future feedback; no one’s going to get it right 100% of the time and this sort of pushback is super normal in all jobs. Is she young? I struggled with anything other than glowing feedback when I was young too, I felt SO guilty ANY time anything went wrong, until I realized that it’s not personal, I can’t know everything and bad feedback is just a problem to solve.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had something happen that opened my eyes.

      I was supervising people who were 20-25 years older than me and I felt a little intimidated. I realized I had to work though that or I would be a lousy supervisor. One of the many things I did was check-in with everyone to see how their task was going. I also made sure they know how much to do so they did not overrun the goal.

      One day one of the older people said to me, “I can work for you! [as opposed to a specific other person] And that is because you never let me make an a$$ of myself. You make sure I am on track and doing the task correctly and you do not set me up so I do too little or too much. I never feel foolish!”

      OP, what I see here is that you could:
      Do more check-ins at appropriate points. If you are not sure where those natural breaks are, then ask her.
      Check-in with outsiders to make sure your group is on track.
      And last. This is a biggie: If there is an error of this size, tell the person in PRIVATE first. You can go on to explain how you believe it is your failure and so on, but say it all in private.
      Then let the person know that you will be discussing this at a meeting.

      In the meeting you can say, “I have discussed this with Clara and one of things I realize I need to do is X and Y and Z [specific actions relevant to your setting]. So I will be doing this with all of you and hopefully we will be on track with our projects. If you all have questions in between check-ins, please be sure to come see me. I want us to do the job once and get it on the first effort. I feel it’s my responsibility to support all of you in your endeavors. But sometimes I need you also to tell me where and how I can support you. So we are going to be checking in more often with each other.”

      I’ve supervised and/or trained a lot of people. I learned to never assume anything. One of my humbling lessons I have had is that people do not do what you WANT them to do, rather they do what you TELL them to do. I had to learn to really listen to my own words and make sure I was very clear about what I was saying. Check-ins a project progresses are very critical and can save so much time and money over the longer haul.

      I could be wrong here. But I what I see is that Clare feels she was allowed to make an a$$ of herself. Not only is she embarrassed but she is also stymied because she cannot remedy this on her own. Hence the tears- a mix of anger and frustration. I’d cry also.

      1. LW3*

        LW3 here. I really appreciate your feedback. You’ve called out a number of things I could have done a better job of here, and that’s really helpful.

        We do have daily team check-ins and individual ones weekly. But I should probably make a more proactive effort to stay on top of requests from other groups like this in the future. Thanks!

    3. LGC*

      Yeah, like – I’m sorry, I know this is a blog for The Way The World Is and not The Way I Wish The World Was, but…#normalizecrying.

      (Okay, maybe don’t normalize it, but…make it less of a big deal?)

      I hope this doesn’t sound unkind because I really don’t mean it that way, but…it feels like LW3 is approaching this a little like Clara’s crying is a problem to be solved – that is, if they do the right things, Clara won’t cry. However…with all due respect to Clara (she sounds amazing from the letter), she’s a messy human with a face that leaks sometimes at inopportune moments. (I, too, am a messy human with a face that leaks sometimes at inopportune moments, so I get that.) LW3 sounds like a good and caring manager, but even the best manager in the world can’t prevent their employees from having their own emotional reactions. (Nor should they!)

      Obviously, crying in response to negative feedback (LW3 doesn’t specify how harshly it was delivered, which might affect things) isn’t ideal…but especially if it’s the first time in a year working there, I can understand it. But it’s a lesson I had to learn myself – I became a lot happier in life when I realized that I can’t control other people’s emotions. This doesn’t mean I get to run roughshod over people, but it also means that just because someone is upset (or even upset with me) doesn’t mean that I did anything wrong.

  14. JM in England*

    Re #2

    At OldJob there was a round of redundancies. One of my coworkers was selected and this was in his first job post graduation. Another co-worker, who was more experienced and looking to leave anyway, offered himself to be laid off in the other’s place. However, the company wouldn’t hear of it.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Something along those lines happened in a round of redundancies at my old job (from your username, we are in the same country) – people were offered the chance to opt for voluntary redundancy before any interviews took place to see who was keeping their jobs and this one guy, in a similar situation (more experienced, not that far off retirement) tried to volunteer to give his other coworkers a chance, but was turned down.

      The guy in question was in a very specific role, but had been slotted into a pool of roles for the purpose of the redundancy process and he happened to be the most suited to the specific role, which was probably also part of why he was turned down. In the event no one from that pool of roles was made redundant anyway because by the time there was confirmation regarding funding (which had been postponed a few times) some of us had found internal transfers, but we didn’t know it would go that way at the time.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I’m guessing the low seniority and correspondingly low salary is why LW was kept, as Alison suggested. The same thing happened to me. I graduated college during the great recession, but managed to get a job in my field. Layoffs started a few months later, and my direct manager was let go during the first round. I knew it was inevitable for me too, and I was searching hard for something else but there just wasn’t anything. I flew under the radar for over three years before I was finally laid off, most likely because I made the lowest salary.

      1. Weekend Please*

        If the OP is close to retirement age, that could also be a factor. They may figure OP will retire soon and they won’t have to pay severance and/or be worried about the appearance of age discrimination.

    3. Artemesia*

      I was in a merger where we didn’t know how many would lose their jobs; one very senior person volunteered to be layed off if it would save the job of one of the juniors in his area. He said — I am pretty close to retirement and he has a whole career ahead of him. As it happened — EVERYONE in that division was dismissed. In order to avoid any lawsuits there was no picking and choosing just wholesale dismissals by department. But I have never forgotten that this guy stepped up and did the right thing. It was impressive. And if there had been a RIF rather than wholesale departmental layoffs, it probably would have worked since he did it before layoffs were announced.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I mean, that was noble of him, but calling it “the right thing” suggests that trying to keep his job would have been the wrong thing, and I can’t agree with that.

  15. Caroline Bowman*

    Re OP1, I totally agree that it’s not her problem / there could be consequences, but I just could not leave it and watch someone get scammed. I’d have to say something somehow. I’d be extremely careful, I’d openly acknowledge that it’s not my personal concern and that she hasn’t asked for my opinions, but that I just have to say ”please verify” because scams are so common. It’s not a comment on intelligence or anything like that, it’s just something every single one of us are vulnerable to under certain circumstances.

  16. Petunia*

    I find it interesting that if someone is being catfished, there is a “moral” obligation to tell them but if they are cheated on, the general advice is mind your own business. OP, if you tell her your suspicions, I think you will be the messager that gets shot based on your previos experience with her. Personally, I would suggest asking her if she has reverse searched his photos because it is “fun”. If he has stolen someone else’s pictures, there is a chance she will find them. Of course, he may be using photos of himself which wouldn’t help. But I would tread warily on this one. I think people who catfish and/or cheat are scum. But given you already have a precarious relationship and no evidence, I would stay quiet about your suspicions.

    1. Petunia*

      Now I have suggested it, I wonder about the accuracy. Does anyone know if Google/reverse image searches would be able to match photos of people?

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        The problem with this is that some scammers have gotten wise to this trick, and solicit candid photos from victims of various scams (romance, etc.) to then reuse later. Other scammers will play it off as their identity having been stolen before (assuming they didn’t swipe a politician or actor’s pictures).

        1. OkapiFeels*

          A few months ago I saw some screenshots on Twitter of someone catfishing with Lin Manuel Miranda photos–that had been put through one of those genderswap apps. Which struck me as evil in a genius way–so much harder to recognize the photo for what it is, harder to reverse image search, and the people more likely to get scammed are less likely to notice the tell-tale app fuzziness.

        2. Self Employed*

          Scammers and fake account trolls are even using computer-generated photos. There are often glitches, but some are pretty convincing. I suspect someone trying to run a catfishing scam would put more work into selecting a good one than someone creating zillions of fake Twitter accounts to retweet disinformation. After all, if the goal is to get someone to fall in love with you, they’re going to look at your picture a lot more thoroughly than someone reacting to your Tweets would.

    2. Natalie*

      Do you really not see the difference between catfishing and infidelity? The former is just plain fraud – the fraud might be accomplished using romance as a cover, but the entire situation has no foundation or point beyond one person stealing another person’s money. Infidelity is just more varied as an issue – more possible causes, outcomes, affects on the parties involved, etc.

    3. Observer*

      I find it interesting that if someone is being catfished, there is a “moral” obligation to tell them but if they are cheated on, the general advice is mind your own business.

      While there are a couple of people who have been going on about a moral obligation to tell the boss, most people have been telling the OP to stay out of it.

  17. EvilQueenRegina*

    #1, be prepared for the likelihood that your boss won’t believe it (at least at first) when anyone tries to raise the subject. I had that experience when trying to step in on a slightly different scam. In this case it was the “Fake Celebrity Scam” – they troll the social media pages of bona fide celebs, create a Messenger Without Facebook account posing as the celeb, see who has been posting comments to the celeb’s real social media and then message them saying something like “thanks for your support.”

    In this case, a fake Stephen Amell had managed to approach my loved one at a particularly bad time and had managed to convince him he was offering him a job writing scripts for Arrow. As I heard the story, so much of it didn’t ring true. Why would the lead actor on the show be doing the hiring of writers himself? Why would he be approaching people he didn’t know on Facebook to do it?

    Stephen SCAMell was asking for iTunes cards. I questioned at the time why the real guy would do this. The problem was, on the day in question, the real Stephen Amell had posted to Facebook that he was having problems using his credit cards in Istanbul, and my loved one felt this added credibility to his claim to need the iTunes cards. I’ve seen screenshots of the initial conversation, and SCAMell kept asking questions about iTunes cards that were totally out of context to what was actually being said.

    It happened I had limited contact with this person for a couple of weeks due to him being at a family wedding, but after that I eventually found out it had escalated to the point where the scammer was claiming to have sent a package containing a script, a contract and diamonds (?) – which of course got stuck at customs in Thailand and needed an excessive amount of money to release it. It was at this point that I eventually got through to him that it was a scammer (laying it on thick about the diamonds making no sense was the convincing factor in the end after all the other arguments I had tried putting) so he removed and blocked the number (which was something that looked like a New York number but I believe to have been spoofed).

    I managed to report the scam profile and get it taken down by commenting on the real profile, the scammer messaged me and I reported it as fake.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Believe me, it was, and even after he removed and blocked the scammer (he was this close to asking his parents for a loan to pay for this non existent package, although I suspect that they wouldn’t have funded this) there were times in the months afterwards when he’d occasionally bring it up – for example, when the Arrow/Flash/Supergirl crossover took place that year he’d said something about wondering if the script had been for that. Since I’d felt at times like he saw me as the bad guy when I tried to intervene, I always found it difficult to know how to respond to it when I didn’t believe it was really Stephen Amell, and he knew I didn’t.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Having said that, it helped a bit when I saw the profile had gone, since I’d managed to get it reported as fake I felt like I had at least done something.

    1. Catwoman*

      You hit on something really important in that story, which is that these scammers target people who are having a difficult time. A relative of mine was targeted by a Facebook scammer shortly after she lost her husband. They also look for people who don’t appear to be tech savvy and people who are new to Facebook or whatever platform they are working on.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        In this particular case it was unemployment after the family business went under – it had been on the cards for ages and had literally only just closed a matter of days before this. It happened that Real Stephen Amell had been visiting a city in Europe that is quite close by where this person lives, he’d seen that on Facebook and had posted something about how having missed the opportunity to go to that city and meet him (not having known he’d be there until he had already left) coming on top of the business closing had made for a horrible week or something along those lines from what I remember. He’d wanted very much for it to be the real guy and found it easier to believe SA was really offering a job writing Arrow episodes than to believe me that this was a scammer.

        It was difficult to know quite what arguments to use – for instance, if I’d questioned how come Amell was doing the hiring all himself by “speaking to his secretary and getting the contract sent” and there seemed to be no involvement from Arrow’s actual production team, and he’d asked the scammer why production hadn’t been in touch, it would have been easy enough to have arranged for another dummy account posing as someone in production to get in touch to shut down that argument.

  18. WTF advice*

    Alison, I would like your take on this: if OP1 has no moral obligation to warn her boss because her boss might be a bad person and it might impact their relationship negativelly, what else is she absolved from acting on? When she suspects her boss is being physically abused, not just financially? When that boss racialy abuses her coworker because hey, maybe that coworker is a bad person and OP1 needs this job? When her boss hits her children? It’s not a work problem, so why get involved?
    Abuse is abuse, people. When we see it we have a moral obligation to act. We can do it annonimously to lessen the impact on ourselves but if we do nothing, who is the real villain here? And if we say do nothing, are we not accomplieces in the crime? Are we not abusers ourselves?

    1. Blended*

      Telling this woman the truth about being catfoshed could cost LW their job – no they aren’t obligated to tell her. Plus, even the show catfish has some surprise episodes where people are exactly who they said they are. As for abuse, again, not sure if you can know from the outside and speaking up can make an abused person feel exposed. Bad advice sorry.

        1. Myrin*

          How anonymous is this going to be, really? The boss brought this up in what sounds like a one-on-one setting. Sure, it’s possible that if she is so excited about this that she even told her least-favoured report about it, she talked to others as well, but OP can’t bank on that.
          (Also, I think all this talk about firing OP is a red herring. If I were OP, my boss wouldn’t be even close to being able to fire me for this because of the laws in my country, but I would still feel the same kind of torn the OP seems to feel.)

          1. Beehoppy*

            If OP is in the US, in most of the states you can be fired for anything or even nothing – it’s called At Will employment, and unless she was able to prove it was discrimination against a protected class she would have no recourse. It’s a legitimate concern.

            1. Myrin*

              I know (I’ve been reading AAM daily since 2014), that’s why I brought it up – many comments seem to see the fact that the boss could fire OP for this if she felt like it as the main reason for why OP needs to tread carefully, and my counter-observation to that is that I would feel like I’d need to tread exactly as carefully even though I wouldn’t have to fear someone firing me over it.

        2. Aggretsuko*

          You’d have to be reaaaaaally sure it’s anonymous and not easily guessable. I think in this case it would be guessable.

          Suffice it to say that when someone pulled an anonymous against me, it was a mighty short list of suspects.

          1. Self Employed*

            I tried sending an anonymous note exactly once, in middle school. The camp counselors explained why it was so obvious it was me, and I decided I wasn’t going to try it again. (I was sticking up for a friend–they had confiscated her favorite record just to punish her for something and she was really upset. I sent a note saying I was the camp ghost from the campfire story and would haunt them if they didn’t return it.)

    2. MK*

      No, we are not. Abuse is abuse. Scamming, on its own, is not abuse (never mind that the OP is merely suspecting a scam). Also, equating financial loss with physical abuse or racism is not appropriate.

      Given the tone of your comments, I am disturbed by the assertion that we have a moral obligation to act in cases of abuse. We have a moral obligation to help, if asked, certainly, maybe to offer help, but no one has the right, let alone the moral obligation, to interfere in the lives of other people unasked, especially not coworkers, who have not chosen to have you in their lives.

      No one is saying the OP should do nothing because the manager is a bad person. Alison pointed put, rightly, that they do not have the type of relationship that would make it appropriate and safe for the OP to have this discussion, and it is the boss’s fault that they don’t have that relationship, because the boss discourages feedback and penalizes honesty.

      1. WTF advice*

        Abuse comes in all forms: physical, emotional, mental, sexual, financial, racial… Catfishing is both financial and emotional abuse. The scammer pretends to be in love with the person to get the money which leaves the victims not only broke but emotionaly devastated. You are saying that OP1 has the right to save herself from financial ruin by not speaking up and letting the boss go unaware into it.
        As far as morality goes, one could argue that we all have our own standards and views and this question has shown where the line stands for a lot of us.

        1. Allonge*

          I think if you, personally, could not live with yourself in this case without saying something to the boss, that is ok. Please recognise this as being as much about yourself as it’s about willing to take risks to help other people.

          And yes, people have a right to save themselves from financial ruin when the alternative is an action that has very little chance of actually succeeding. This is not Bezos pushing a woman in front of a car for an additonal million dollars. It’s somebody not doing something that may not be necessary at all and even if it is, has a very low chance of succeeding.

        2. Julia*

          If someone is infamous for shooting the messenger whenever she doesn’t want to hear something, she can’t expect people to deliver bad messages unless absolutely necessary.

        3. Mockingjay*

          We don’t know if this is catfishing, let alone a potential abusive situation. “Hey, I met a guy online and we’re having great conversations!” That’s just not enough information to act one way or another.

          It’s really not OP 1’s business at this point. The boss is an adult who is free to make her own decisions AND mistakes. This last part is really hard for caring people, especially when the consequences could (seemingly) be avoided. (“If only they took my advice!” They don’t have to.)

          1. Joielle*

            Yeah, I think it might be a different story if, in a month, the boss says “the guy I’m seeing online is having such a hard time, his company won’t pay him and he can’t afford to get home from the oil rig, I sent him money for a plane ticket so he can come visit right away!” Like, if the guy doesn’t materialize after that, it might be time to say something to the boss. But at this point, it’s such a vague suspicion that I think it would hurt the OP’s credibility to accuse the guy of being a scammer.

        4. Tinker*

          If OP1 ‘spoke up’ and the boss had technically been told, but felt threatened and embarrassed and as a result doubled down on the relationship — which is a really common outcome when outsiders intervene forcefully on intimate personal decisions — would the important point be that at least OP1 had the moral high ground, regardless of whether more harm came to the boss as a result?

          If so, you can’t exactly claim to be concerned with the welfare of the boss either.

    3. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      It’s an awkward conflation of concepts to me.

      Perhaps something more accurate, if you want to go down this path, is to compare this to OP’s moral obligation to warn her boss about drug abuse.

      The boss is high on oxytocin, blindly believes what her dealer tells her, and sees no risk in this wonderful enhancement to her life. She’s a person with free will who is choosing what to wilfully invite into her life and what to wilfully ignore. It’s a terrible decision that everyone else knows could drain her finances and ruin her life.

      Now. You’re someone whose employment she controls and doesn’t like that much. The choices she makes in her private life are none of your business. And you want to go in there and, …what? Proselytise about good life choices? Stage an intervention? Assume the role of a loving family member or close friend?

      1. WTF advice*

        And yet, we have countless commercials and actions to warn people about the dangers of drug use. Why don’t we just let people find out about the pitfalls of drug abuse on their own? Let our children for example use drugs without saying anything. After 18 it’s their choice.
        Sorry about the sarcasm, I’m trying to ge a point across.
        Let us say OP1 does nothing, not even annonymously. And it turns out it was catfishing. And her boss loses her “love” and her money. That’s gonna make her a better boss? And OP1 is going to say, OMG, that is terrible, how awful for you, what is this catfishing, I’ve never heard of it? How is OP1 going to feel about it? Like a better person? If she needs an excuse to let it happen like some sort of karma retribution for her boss being a bad boss, OK, a lot of you have given her your OK with it, but I would argue that karma comes for all of us and a bad thing happening to a bad person doesn’t make it right.

        1. Beehoppy*

          I don’t think most people are saying OP should not intervene because boss is a bad boss and so doesn’t deserve help. It’s because she’s a bad boss that A.) the chances she believes OP and acts on the information is low and B.) the chance she punishes the OP for implying she is dumb enough to get catfished is high. I think if most of us felt there was a strong chance the boss would believe her and act accordingly we would urge OP to take the risk, but if the likely outcome is nothing changes for the boss and OP loses her job, the risk reward ratio is too out of balance.

        2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I appreciate that you’re trying to get a point across. The sarcasm and hyperbole is confusing your point though.
          Making weird exaggerated comparisons means other commenters will latch onto the red herrings to counter what you’re saying, rather than being able to engage on the essence of your view.
          It seems like this is something very emotive for you, would you like to try speaking to that instead? I’d like to understand what’s behind your strong feelings on it.

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            I agree. The points WTF advice is raising are worth discussing, but the false analogies and palpable anger are preventing any true exchange of ideas. I, too, would like to know what’s behind the anger.

        3. Koalafied*

          A parent warning an adult child and a television PSA are not comparable situations to the power dynamic between a manager and their employee. You’ve made it clear that you don’t think the power dynamic is relevant to whether the LW should speak up. Others have made it clear that it IS relevant to many people. It’s not about karma; it’s about what burdens we have an obligation to carry for someone who has power over us. The LW is likely not the only person in Boss’s life, and almost any other person at all is better positioned to be the bearer of bad news here than she is, because LW is the one person in Boss’s life that she has the power to punish if she doesn’t like what she hears. For many of us, morality is not some black and white absolute that requires us to disregard context and mitigating circumstances and martyr ourselves. We recognize that there are shades of gray, and differences between an ideal world and a real one.

          1. WTF advice*

            Power dynamics here don’t sound so extreme. OP1 is not saying she might lose her job, more like this boss might get more annoying if I tell her this.
            Her boss might be in a worse financial state than OP1.

            1. Colette*

              The boss’s financial state is her responsibility, not the OP’s.

              If the boss doesn’t like the OP, it could easily affect her job (i.e. what projects she’s offered, what her evaluation says, even whether or not she gets laid off) – and this is a global pandemic. The OP is not obligated to risk her livelihood because the boss might be getting scammed.

            2. Koalafied*

              There are lots of ways that a boss can make life hard on their employee. This is her livelihood and the place where she spends more waking hours than anyplace else except home. Boss could deny her the opportunity to advance in her career by not giving her stretch assignments. Boss could make snide remarks daily that LW wouldn’t be able to address because of the power difference and because they’d seem to fall short of meriting an HR complaint but could still be putting her mental health at risk is a death-by-1000-papercuts way purely because of how much time they spend together. Boss could gossip about LW to others at the company and undermine their confidence in her. Boss could decide not to give her a raise, or give her a smaller one than she otherwise would have, or give her a “meets expectations” instead of “exceeds expectations” because she’s bitter and embarrassed. Boss could withhold networking contacts or fail to pass along when she hears of opportunities that would be good for LW’s career. Boss has lots of ways of making the environment where LW has to spend 5 days a week, indefinitely, uncomfortable, as well as damaging her career in general.

              The power differential doesn’t have to be extreme for the potential impact to be tangible. Especially with the compounding factor where the earlier in your career a setback happens, the more dramatically it will affect your lifetime earning potential. If Boss had a history of being receptive to negative feedback the risk of her reacting poorly and doing something unprofessional to punish LW would be substantially less and might change the risk calculation in favor of telling her. But Boss has reacted poorly and unprofessionally in the past to negative feedback, so it’s reasonable to worry about how she would react to this and weigh more heavily whether LW personally really needs to be the one to share her suspicions.

        4. Colette*

          Would the OP be obligated to warn her boss about payday loans? Buying GameStop stocks? Starting a side-hustle in an MLM? “Lending” money to strangers is also on that list.

          There are many financial decisions that adults can make that are their own responsibility. One of the first things you learn if you take a first aid course is that your first priority is keeping yourself safe so that there aren’t two victims. The OP doesn’t have the kind of relationship with her boss that would make it reasonable to warn her that this could be a scam.

        5. MCMonkeybean*

          I think the fact that you are equating directly warning any person you know, let alone your boss, with a public PSA indicates you are no longer arguing in good faith. Your goalposts are all over the place and you are not taking in what anyone else is saying.

        6. Roci*

          I agree with your larger point, I think people do have a moral obligation to watch out for others whenever they can. Someone is about to step into a puddle, someone is being cheated on, someone is being scammed… it is clear that the right thing to do is to speak up.

          However, OP is not 100% sure that the boss IS being scammed–red flags are not hard evidence– so all she can do is warn her boss that this MIGHT be a scam. Because OP doesn’t know for sure, she is not guilty or evil for deciding she doesn’t have enough evidence to do something about it.

          More importantly, if OP DOES decide to do something, it may not be effective. The boss already doesn’t accept criticism and questions well. They don’t have a close or equal relationship. OP doesn’t have evidence, just warnings. And people who are scammed by these kinds of things are very VERY hard to convince. It’s like pulling people out of an MLM or a cult. And it is shameful and embarrassing to admit someone tricked you because you were lonely and vulnerable. This makes the message hard to hear.

          I think OP should say something, but should also weigh the consequences of her approach. Unfortunately sometimes it is better to make the morally wrong choice, and choose not to speak truth to power, so that you can survive to make morally right choices in the future.

    4. D3*

      Abuse is abuse. Yes.
      But a picture that looks “off” and a profession that may or may not be real? NOT ABUSE.
      Not even something anyone has any obligation to put themselves at risk over.
      Something tells me you’ve been scammed before and you’re bitter that no one stopped you.
      News flash: It’s not on those around you to save you from yourself.

      If I’m right and you have been scammed before, time to stop blaming those around you for your own stupidity. And definitely time to stop railing on people here who get the difference between abuse and speculation.

    5. Artemesia*

      It has nothing to do with the boss being a ‘bad person’ who deserves to be scammed — it is about the OP losing her job or her advancement because even if she is right and heeded no one wants to be around the person who pointed out to them they were being fooled. There is no up side for the OP and a real possibility of damaging her career.

    6. Observer*

      Abuse is abuse, people

      No. This is a morally corrupt argument.

      but if we do nothing, who is the real villain here? And if we say do nothing, are we not accomplieces in the crime? Are we not abusers ourselves?

      This is a very interesting way to shift the blame of abuse from the ACTUAL abuser to bystanders who have no real power in the situation, and do not even have actual knowledge that abuse is happening, and ALSO do not actually have any effective means to take action.

    7. Pibble*

      If I was happily in a new relationship and got an out-of-the-blue anonymous email claiming my new guy was a scammer, I’d assume I had a creepy stalker somewhere who got triggered by my romantic interest in someone else, freak out and start second guessing who it could be, and cling even tighter to the new guy. Doing something with a real chance of terrorizing someone and driving them further into the scammer’s hands isn’t exactly the moral highground you’re hoping for.

  19. Elle by the sea*

    I used to tear up easily too (not so much anymore), even after watching cartoons and films with songs in it (think Bollywood movies), ads that I find cute, etc. – as an adult. When it happened to me in meetings that were charged up or I received negative feedback, it was just a physical reaction, so I was praying that no one would notice or follow up with me on that. I just wanted it to be ignored. But everyone is different. Some people who cry do want emotional support, so it’s hard to tell.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Yes! Please don’t try to comfort me if I cry at work (an incredibly rare occurrence now). Just pretend you don’t notice!! I can only think of one time in the last 10 years I have teared up at work and it was personal and I really didn’t want to talk about it. I immediately headed to the restroom to compose myself. But I used to cry a lot more easily and I found it horribly embarrassing if anyone called it out (even in a nice way).

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        I’m still embarrassed about one time I was so frustrated about something at work that I went to the bathroom because I felt myself starting to tear up… and then my boss also went to the bathroom so she saw me crying anyway.

  20. Raven*

    OP1, is there any chance you could get your company’s IT person to intervene, even indirectly? Maybe that person could send out an all-employees email saying something like, “Hey colleagues, Valentine’s Day is coming up, but online dating scams are no joke! Here are a number to keep an eye out for: 1. Online scammers who target women. Very often, these scammers will claim various things to excuse why they can’t visit a woman or video chat with her: they “work on an oil rig” in a faraway place, their company doesn’t allow video chatting, their phone camera is broken, etc. Google ‘oil rig’ and ‘catfish’ to learn more!”

    Or, on a similar note, if your boss is using her work email to contact this scammer, perhaps your IT person could say something like, “Hey, I’ve noticed that a lot of the emails you’ve been getting have been coming from an IP address in Ghana/Nigeria/India/wherever you think this guy might be.”

    I spend a looooot of time reading r/Scams, and, as you mentioned, this situation is unfortunately pretty common. Good luck!

    1. Raven*

      ETA: Meant to add brackets on the second quote. Your IT person could just pick any country that’s normally associated with online scams. Hopefully that will at least make your boss raise an eyebrow as to why that might be the case. The only downside, though, is if you pick a coastal country and she could just assume that that’s where the oil rig is.

    2. Grand Mouse*

      This would feel transparent and I’m worried singling out women as the target of these would be a bad way to go

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I wouldn’t worry so much about it being transparent as much as it being useless (for OP’s boss) in the same way that sending an email to the whole company about TPS reports needing to be filed promptly is useless when really it’s just Jim who’s always late with the TPS report.

        Now, could it potentially prevent someone *else* from falling victim to the same type of scam? Maybe! I work for a utility and our Cyber Security department sends regular emails with information about hacking/scam attempts they’ve caught in the firewall or ones that are frequently in the news (got one the other day about stimulus scams) because of how damaging it would be to our company and customers if we were hacked. If OP’s company wants to start doing that type of thing it couldn’t hurt (and would be fairly easy to make this particular suggestion gender-neutral), but is unlikely to actually result in the OP’s boss recognizing herself in the scenario.

  21. What Guy?*

    Re: OP #1– Unfortunately the manager in question is already being unprofessional enough to share romantic escapades with reports. If she ends up being embarrassed by any part of the outcome— and given her already less-than-stellar management style— she may be inappropriately retaliatory to anyone she has shared the information with, friend or perceived “foe”. OP is damned if she does and potentially damned if she doesn’t. Better start practicing the face that falls barely into vague sympathy, moving quickly on to “well, moving on…”.

    1. BHB*

      I don’t think it’s that unprofessional, assuming the boss isn’t sharing their all-night explicit texting sessions. She’s just sharing a small detail about her life outside of work that she’s pretty excited about.

      I get that some people don’t want to share anything about themselves at all at work, and that’s fine, but the OP’s boss clearly isn’t one of those people and is sharing to try and develop a closer relationship to the OP. OP hasn’t expressed that she’s uncomfortable with that information being shared, just that she’s concerned her boss might be falling for a scam.

      I agree that if boss is being scammed, she will likely be very embarrassed when it comes clear, and I think that OP’s best course of action is to not say anything. That way they can be sympathetic when it does come crashing down, without the boss perceiving there to be any “I told you so!” attitude from the OP.

    2. Kaiko*

      I read that differently. Especially if she and OP normally have a complicated relationship, I figured that, if the boss is sharing this info, she’s already smitten, or she might be doing a gut check. If she seems obviously head over heels, I think OP could just do some watchful waiting…but if seems like the boss is more like, “I’ve got something happening in my personal life and I think I need to talk about it,” there could be a way to frame the conversion like, “Hey, I thought a lot about your new beau, something didn’t sit right with me for XYZ reasons, I know you know the situation much better than I do, but this reminded me of…/pinged my radar because of…./”

      OP isn’t obligated to do this, of course, but if the situation is bothering them enough that they write into an advice blog, something isn’t sitting right for them either. Good luck, OP!

  22. Ro*

    OP1- first of all you don’t KNOW she is being scammed. I would say there are a lot of red flags and I too think this is almost certainly a scam but you don’t know 100%, what if you warn her and then he turns out to be real? It isn’t likely but its not impossible. You will have meant well but just look vindictive.

    The example I always bring up is the teaching assistant at my uni who had his father die three times in four years. It turns out his bio dad was gay. So it was his bio dad and two steps dads. He just called them all variations of Dad, Pa, Pappy etc and never thought to explain they were 3 different people. But he wasn’t lying. Things can look suspicious and sometimes aren’t. And yes the admin that confronted him ended up looking heartless even though she had reason to believe he was lying.

    Secondly, if she has a history of not taking things you say to her well when it is about work why would she take anything personal (and humiliating) like being scammed any better? You’ll make her feel foolish and she won’t thank you for it. If she considers you offering opinions on work a challenge its unlikely she’ll react better to you offering opinions on her personal life, especially when you turn out to be right.

    I’m surprised by all the people saying warn her subtly, very few people can pull that off in practice and if OP messes it up it could be worse than just telling her, anonymous notes are also always a bad idea, Alison has said this before.

    Morally should you warn her? Yes. But you aren’t obligated to light yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. You will probably face a backlash for telling her and she’ll fall for it anyway. So you’ve damaged your career at worst and made you work life more unpleasant as best for no gain to anyone.

  23. mreasy*

    OP4 – I work in the music industry and have tried (and “failed”) to switch careers twice to food. Once was culinary school and an externship, and once was taking a job in the food world, realizing I hated it, and going back to music. I say this because even this very competitive industry has never “punished” me or in any ways doubted me when I came back, and I don’t think you need to worry that your industry will shun you for trying something else.

  24. cncx*

    RE OP5, i think in OP’s specific case Alison’s advice is spot on.

    In my case, I keep my first university on there because it’s in a different country and is a testatment to my language skills, also because that particular university is considered difficult and switching out is common, so transferring out isn’t a red flag. Also, my mother has an associates in nursing which on paper doesn’t mean anything (especially compared to her masters and jd), but in the places where she has worked, the associate’s institution was known at the time for an extremely rigorous clinical program, so for certain job applications it was a big plus (like when she applied to run a clinical program). So sometimes I do think it makes sense to leave a place on even when you didn’t get a degree or get your final degree there.

  25. agnes*

    There is nothing wrong with trying something and finding that it wasn’t for you. Sometimes people become even more committed to their original career path after an experience like this one. You will probably get asked about it, so be prepared to explain as Alison suggested. If you can figure out how this experience with career B will help you be better at career A, even better. Otherwise I would just say that you wanted to try something different, and that experience made you realize that you really prefer career A for these reasons–your particular strengths suit career A better, etc etc. .

  26. WTF advice*

    OP1 – I think the consensus here is that it’s morally right to tell your boss, but if you’re scared of retribution most people won’t blame you if you don’t say anything. I guess the appropriate action is the one that leaves you sleeping soundly, be it because you’re with a job and finantially safe or because a potential scammer is derailed and that is something only you can answer for yourself.

    1. BHB*

      I mostly agree with what you’re saying, but I would add that even if OP tells the boss and even if the Boss reacts in the best possible way.. the OP still can’t sleep soundly thinking the scammer has been derailed because it’s very very unlikely to be the case. They will almost certainly be catfishing several other people at the same time, and the loss of one victim isn’t really going to affect them much. And it’s almost certain that law enforcement won’t get involved, especially if no money has changed hands yet.

      1. WTF advice*

        To the scammer it won’t mean much, but to the victim it could mean a lot. But that’s beside the point here. OP1 might sleep soundly even if she knew that her boss was being catfished for sure, we don’t know her.
        What’s moral is one thing, what’s smart for one person could be something else and what we must do to sleep soundly might be a third option.

  27. Krabby Patty Taste Tester*

    LW#4: Can you reframe your experience? You can think of the first job as a success where you found something you liked and allowed you time to pursue other passions and gave you stability. That’s HUGE. You can think of the preceding years as normal career experimentation that most people do throughout their lives. Also, the entertainment industry is incredibly competitive and many people who try to break into it and can’t quite make it are left sad (who wouldn’t be?) But also think that at least you don’t have the regret of never having tried. If someone wanted to be a musician but never bothered to try to become one, they’d have the regret that they tried. You gave it your all and you can continue to give it your all even as you pursue other career options.

  28. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1, I once came across some information about a medical condition that my boss had (his wife, also working there, told me about it, she was very TMI in general). By the time I learned this information, she was no longer there and my relationship was strained with the boss (to put it mildly).
    Another employee and I discussed this information: it turned out that a particular additive in his favourite food, that he ate almost every day, could be lethal for him given his condition. We realised that if we tried to tell him, he’d wave us off for being fussy, since we were women, and also shared an interest in organic food. The article with the information was published in a magazine on healthy eating that you can buy at the organic shop.
    We finally decided that he needed to be informed, because we didn’t want his death on our consciences. So we left the magazine on the table in the break room, opened at the relevant page. Sure enough, he started to read the article, since he didn’t want to join in our “inane” conversation. He’d been reading just long enough to have got to the part about the additive being lethal for people like him and threw the magazine down exclaiming “who brought this stupid magazine in?”
    We kept quiet. We were happy he’d read the article, we knew he had the info, and now it was up to him to act on it or not. Of course he didn’t, but our consciences were clear at least.
    So I would suggest you find a high-tech equivalent of leaving a magazine on the breakroom table. Maybe someone could innocently start talking about a oilrig catfishing article that was posted on their social media?

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I was thinking of an indirect way of getting the information to OP’s boss. If you have bulletin boards in the break rooms, maybe post an article there? Our HR will post articles about health or IT security or other topics that might be relevant to employees, so I don’t think it would be totally out of line or weird to see in a break room.

    2. Beany*

      I confess, I’d be wary of articles about the dangers of certain foods or environmental factors if I saw it in a magazine I thought of as “crunchy”, or with some other agenda. Do you know whether the same information was backed up by research in peer-reviewed journals (even if that’s not something you could casually leave lying around the office for others to pick up and thumb through)? And do you know that the boss’s health condition deteriorated after that (as a result of continuing to consume this additive, or otherwise)?

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Here’s my example: I noticed a coworker had some very serious signs of anemia. This was a coworker who disliked me immensely (very similar “questioning my authority” complaints). I asked if he was feeling OK and mentioned he might want to get a blood test and why. He said he hadn’t been to a doctor in years because he was fine. I was so concerned that I asked another coworker to talk to the guy. Coworker #2 did so and said the response was that I was a “know-it-all bitch” and we all needed to mind our own business. Shortly after this, I transferred to another department. After a week in the new job, one of the people down there called me to to say that the coworker I was worried about had been rushed to the hospital. He was severely anemic due to internal bleeding, and he required surgery. When the sick guy returned to the workplace coworker #2 told him “See…you should have listened to Sparkles. She was only trying to help you.”

      It was at that point that the sick guy started telling people I had poisoned him. I heard the poisoning story from multiple people. I started to worry that someone might believe this until the sick coworker said it at a meeting and someone said “Don’t be ridiculous. She wouldn’t do such a thing. She was trying to help you. And if she did poison you, we’d all be OK with that.” In a situation with a power imbalance, that might not have worked out so well for me. I still would have tried, because I honestly believe the guy was in a health crisis.

      In the scamming example here, I don’t think I would bother. People don’t hear what they don’t want to hear. The stakes for the affected person are far lower, and, due to the power imbalance, the potential harm to the LW is higher. Getting others involved could potentially expose the Boss to ridicule and that might be something she cannot forgive. She might prefer losing money over being seen as a gullible person at work.

      1. Former Employee*

        Wow! I guess it never occurred to him that going around telling people someone poisoned him could result in his being sued for slander.

  29. Philly Redhead*

    LW #4 — you’re being way too hard on yourself! I did attempt a career change, too. I left a job in graphic design and went to culinary school to become a baker. Except it turned out that, once I graduated from culinary school (with honors!), I HATED working in the industry. It also happened to coincide with a major health crisis that nearly killed me.

    I gave the culinary career what I felt was a fair shot (two years in various roles — restaurant, bakery, bread, etc.), and then returned to graphic design. I got my foot back in the door by freelancing/temping, and now I’m back in a full-time, permanent role in an in-house agency. I’ve told my story to many people and never got the impression that anyone thought I was a failure or wasn’t still passionate about graphic design.

    1. Silly Janet*

      I agree they are being way too harsh with themselves. LW4, think like an Icelander- they have no stigma attached to failure and it is very common for citizens to have many different types of jobs on their resumes and be involved in numerous creative projects.

    2. CM*

      If I were hiring someone who was moving back into my industry after having tried something else, I wouldn’t assume they failed at career #2. I would assume they preferred career #1. As a bonus, I bet you could give examples of some skills you picked up in career #2 that normally career #1 people don’t have. (Signed, somebody who switched careers and thinks that’s an interesting thing about my background that gave me an unusual mix of skills and knowledge.)

  30. Generic Name*

    #5 I agree with Allison, I started at one university and transferred halfway through to another, and I only list the university that conferred my degree and my graduation year. It’s never been a problem.

  31. KHB*

    Q1: Have you considered that maybe the reason your boss sees you as challenging her authority is that you are, actually, challenging her authority? Even here, you think you know more about her personal life than she does, based on, what, one picture and a Google search? Since it sounds like other coworkers get along with her just fine (you admit that you’re her least favorite colleague), it sounds like there’s a good chance that your strained relationship is a “you” problem, not a “her” problem.

    Regarding the possible catfishing: If she’s shared this information with you – her least favorite colleague – I think it’s safe to say that she’s shared even more with plenty of other people in her life. If this guy is really as suspicious as you think he is, you’re certainly not the only person who’s noticed. (Internet scammers are not exactly known for their subtlety.) On the other hand, if you try to stage an intervention and turn out to be wrong, you’ll look like an idiot. Either way, your only reasonable course of action here is to do nothing.

    1. Managing In*

      Nope. Sorry. There isn’t enough information to tell whose issue the strained relationship is. Awful bosses sometimes focus all the awful on isolating and whittling down just one person, while beaming fake benevolence at everyone else. It could be that LW1 is the problem – if all their bosses had the same issue and LW1 was the constant in each scenario, for example – but it is so entirely possible that it’s a boss problem.

      1. KHB*

        Both are possible. But the one data point we have – the fact that LW1 sees the potential catfishing as her problem to fix, despite knowing that the boss doesn’t like her – is, at least, some evidence in support of the hypothesis that the boss isn’t being totally irrational in not liking her.

        1. Managing In*

          I don’t think she sees it as her problem to fix, I think she sees it as “this piqued my interest so I looked into it more and I’m concerned; is it unwise to say something?”

          We have more data that includes “She often takes my asking questions or sharing opinions as a direct challenge to her authority, and I’m not getting the guidance, support, or recognition from her that I need.” Could this mean LW1 is the problem? Sure. Could this mean the boss is the problem? Absolutely. Could it be a little of both where they just have mismatched working styles? Sure, that too.

          There is saying “Hey, LW1, it can be hard to take a step back and look at things objectively, but do you think you’re contributing to the issues with your boss at all / do you think there is some truth to what your boss feels?” and then there is saying “based on the like 500 words you shared, you are probably the problem”

  32. Vivian*

    LW1 – yes, there’s a 99% chance that this is a scam. But if you tell your boss that her new beau is a scammer, and (in an incredibly unlikely scenario) he isn’t, you’ve damaged your relationship with your boss irreparably.

    I’ve had people imply that my (very corporeal) boyfriend is using me for my money (we make the same salary), because he’s far too attractive to be dating me otherwise. Yes, it hurts my feelings, but it also absolutely reflects poorly on the person putting their prejudices on display.

    If you’re going to tip off your boss, IMO you have to do it with incredible subtlety. For instance, if Dr. Phil has been doing a series on romance scams, mention that you’ve been binging Dr. Phil episodes in lieu of whatever your pre-COVID activities were. Whatever the suggestion is, make sure the link is tenuous enough that she can’t trace the “my boyfriend is a scammer” idea back to you.

    1. Delta Delta*

      What?! People actually tell you your boyfriend is too attractive to date you? Who are these people, and do you punch them?

    2. Former Employee*

      Dr. Phil actually did at least a couple of shows on this subject fairly recently and he has done quite a few of them over the years.

      The problem is that unless the OP has this type of conversation with her boss in which she shares what she’s been seeing on TV or her new favorite salad dressing or…it will come off as strange at best.

  33. Maybe not*

    #2 – I tried to do this once. We knew layoffs were pending, and I knew I was leaving the job in a few months to go to grad school. I asked to be laid off and explained why, but my boss said no. And I kept my job for those months. It felt rotten, even though I did need a job to pay my bills for those months. But it was clear my willingness to be cut was not relevant to their decision-making.

  34. B Wayne*

    LW#2. Can I ask to be laid off instead of a coworker? My plan was to continue to work and start drawing full Social Security benefits at 66.0 using the SS plus the extra I put on the house to pay it off in 7 years total. I would retire in 3.5, 4 years or so with zero debt as the house was it. Then COVID hit and I did indeed start drawing at 66.0 but…no salary! If you are working and can draw full benefits, do so. Pay a little in taxes and invest it for your actual retirement. It’s not “money in the bank” but rather money lost from not investing it.

  35. Middle Manager*

    #5- I did about a year’s worth of community college courses in high school, almost all of which transferred to the liberal arts college that I then graduated from. I’ve never listed the community college on my resume. On occasion, when I’ve applied for some very specific jobs/grad school programs where they want official transcripts, I’ve then noted the community college and included those transcripts. But I think in the vast majority of situations, it’s not needed.

  36. the cat's ass*

    LW1, there’s no way you’re not going to get kill the messenger all over you on this one. It’s like watching a slo-mo car crash happen in front of you and you can’t do a thing. Kudos to you for being clearly kind and caring, even though your boss sounds pretty meh.

    LW5, love the hat tip to “The Magicians”! Going to go read it again, thx to you!

  37. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

    OP1 I’ve got close friends that were catfished – one was an oil rigs scam but even with my very close relationship to both people who experienced this I couldn’t talk them out of it. It doesn’t sound like you have any kind of relationship at all where your boss will listen to what you have to say, in their mind already they hear your relatively banal questions as criticism.

    I would consider if your boss does have friends or family in their life as its likely people closer to them would have picked this up already – its can be a slow process to help someone to see they are being scammed and a few words from a work colleague may not cut it.

    The other alternative would be to tell a little fib and an anecdote of an occasion when you were scammed and let your boss join the dots. This could allow your boss save face a little and there may be a slim chance they hear you – it’s something you’d have to keep yourself long term that it is a fib as a big reveal later would equally humiliate them and your communication styles are so different think carefully before you try this.

    Good luck OP but remember it’s not all on your shoulders to deal with.

  38. throwaway*

    OP2 – No advice unfortunately but I definitely work for the same org as you. I thought everything was handled super poorly last week. The system access shut down, everyone sitting around all day waiting to see if they’d get an invite? Just really bad, all around.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Just a heads-up that one of the commenting rules is ‘Don’t make comments like “I think I know what company you work for.”‘

  39. Erin*

    Another possibility (one that I’ve experienced) is that bringing the catfishing info to your manager’s attention could change your relationship for the better. By discreetly bringing this info to her attention, you are showing that you care about her as a person, which is the kind of thing that creates trust and strengthens relationships.

    However, if she’s the kind of person who blames the messenger for the message, definitely keep it to yourself.

  40. anonykins*

    I have really taken Alison’s advice about school experience to heart and it’s only worked to my advantage. I had a one-year stint in a grad program that did not lead to a degree – that comes off. I have a small number of credits from two different schools in undergrad – definitely not including those. It’s like if you studied abroad – would you really list the university where you studied for one semester?

  41. lilsheba*

    I gotta say the “catfish masquerading as an oil worker” is a new one on me. Usually they’re models or something along those lines.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        A “soldier” has been low key contacting me for several months. I think I’m in his rotation and I come up whenever he’s between victims. I’m sorry that you’re still in Afghanistan but I’m not sending you anything.

  42. Paralegal Part Deux*

    LW #1: As my granny used to say: Bought sense is worth something.

    Sometimes, you can’t save people from themselves, and they have to learn the hard way.

  43. employment lawyah*

    Re catfishing:

    Is there a way you can turn this into a positive? This isn’t criticism, exactly. You can always white-lie and tell her that this “also happened to your second cousin Bertha’s friend and you heard all about it at a recent family gathering and wanted to let her know,” or whatever.

    If you think you can get a positive rapport out of this, you may want to go for it. (I’d be inclined to do it anyway if I could, just to help people, but I see the problem here.)

    Practically speaking, you can also try to find out who ELSE knows, and can then pass the info on to them.

  44. staceyizme*

    LW 1, if your conscience is nagging you, why not circumvent the question of convincing your manager and just share what you’ve learned with any relevant authorities? Make a few anonymous social media posts. Maybe even leave some damning evidentiary breadcrumbs for her, if it can be done without drama or excessive amounts of time. That way, you satisfy your conscience and you don’t have to have this narrative operating in the space of work relationships. (I don’t know who you report catfishers to, but somebody, surely?) *Here are some tools from “reporting catfishing anonymously” in Google. Perhaps one or more of these would be satisfactory?

  45. Homophone Hattie*

    re LW3, I’m going to disagree a little with Alison, though it is a tough call.

    I cry pretty easily. I can’t really help it, it is a physical response. I think OP did absolutely the right thing to ignore it in the moment. The absolute worst thing you can do for a professional colleague or subordinate or whoever who cries at work, especially if others are around to witness, is to draw more attention to it in the moment, because that person is already feeling like an idiot and a child and is MORTIFIED. There is such a shame in crying at work that is different to crying because someone’s died or you’ve seen a sad movie or something.

    As for following up…that is more difficult. Personally I would vastly prefer no follow-up at all. I would absolutely appreciate the boss being a good and kind person, but I would far, far rather be able to believe the fiction that nobody noticed the crying. I would not even like it if my boss used a euphemism like ‘you seemed upset’. If I had any inkling they were talking to me because I’d cried earlier I would feel very ashamed. However, others might like it, I suppose. Still, you really risk making the person feel the shame of crying at work all over again, and that’s something to take into account.

    The only time I have been okay with someone acknowledging the crying is if at the time of the crying I was already in a private location with the other person, like in a closed office with no windows people could see into, and I had a decent relationship with them. Like the boss who had to pass on (somewhat personal) negative feedback at one time, who I had a mutual respect for. She hugged me and offered a tissue and that was okay. It would have been weirder in that context not to acknowledge the crying.

  46. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

    LW1, I’d say this:
    Unless you saw the exact photo she showed you on a google search, I’d leave it be. Yes, she’s probably being catfished, but since she’s unlikely to see sense, it will only harm you in the long run.

  47. Oh No She Di'int*

    Re: Catfishing

    Just a note that many of the comments here assume that there is some financial trickery at play. A large proportion of catfishing cases (maybe most?) involve no financial scamming at all. It’s all emotional. Apparently there is a lack of statistics out there to know either way, but a lot of catfishing “scams” result from the catfish’s low self-esteem, or morbid curiosity, or loneliness, or just rank cruelty. The point is they’re often not at all about money. So it’s worth being vigilant even when no money is changing hands. (Indeed some catfish spend money in order to act out their ruse.)

    Link in response.

  48. Imaginary Number*

    OP #1: This won’t apply to most people, but in some industries, you would actually need to report this as it would be considered a security risk.

    1. Managing In*

      That’s fascinating! I never thought of that. Can you go into more detail or hypothetical examples about how, if LW1 was in the right industry, they would have to go about reporting this? What’s the concern (from a work security standpoint) and what would the action/resolution be?

    2. Not Me*

      In what industry is online dating a security risk that requires reporting? And to whom is the online dating reported?

        1. Not Me*

          Ok, I’ll bite, in what industry is the possibility of your co-worker being catfished a reportable situation and to whom?

          1. Managing In*

            I’m very curious! I asked above. Maybe some types of finance or security or government work? I imagine you have a very clear “to whom” to report if you’re in that situation. And I’m guessing the concern there is not “this person may get their feelings hurt or lose money” and more like, “this person may be put in a compromising scenario where they can be extorted to the detriment of the company/the public, or may be catfished into revealing sensitive information about the company.” All speculation though! I’d love to hear from Imaginary Number.

          2. AKchic*

            Depending on security clearance – gov’t/military positions. High-level financial/tech positions. Law enforcement, diplomats (and their families, depending on situation).

            Everyone has someone they would report a breach of security to. I know who I’d report a breach of security to in *my* line of work, and who I’d report to if my supervisors or coworkers were compromised.

            1. Not Me*

              You guys are jumping to a whole bunch of assumptions. There is nothing in the OP that any regulatory body would require reporting on in the US.

              This is not a “breach of security”. I’ve worked in finance and there’s nothing I can think of that even comes remotely close to “disclose when a co-worker is dating an oil worker online”. I’ve signed affidavits and done FBI interviews for background checks that would impact government security clearance…never once did “possible catfish without evidence” come up, or anything remotely close.

              You guys are making some pretty wild assumptions here.

              1. Managing In*

                Thanks for sharing! Does that change for a hypothetical situation where it’s objectively, definitely, beyond a doubt a catfish? Please file this question under “curiosity” and “speculation.”

  49. Harriet M. Welsch*

    I had a relative fall for this EXACT dating scam. They were incredibly manipulative and sadly, she parted with a few thousand dollars. She was finally convinced it wasn’t real when her “boyfriend” was described in the our state’s attorney general’s fraud website. However, she promptly fell for the next con artist that came along, with the same financial outcome. People believe what they want to believe, and there are always liars who find ways to take advantage of lonely people.

  50. C in the Hood*

    OP4: I call this “making a U-turn”. I’ve done it & I’ve had colleagues do it, and it hasn’t besmirched our professional reputations.
    You haven’t failed; you’ve merely found out that you didn’t like career #2 as much as you thought you might, or that career #1 had better opportunities, etc.
    Really, it’s OK.

  51. JJ*

    OP3 sounds like you did things right, here’s a fun tale of how not to do things:

    I was at a company that had taken on a project that was too big for us, and everyone was super stressed because it was going poorly. I was the person in the lowest, most supporting role. I literally had no power to fix the project, and had been trying random stuff to help because I could get no feedback or direction from my frustrated bosses (one of them yelled at me when I asked for direction, saying he “wasn’t going to tell me how to do my job,” fun!) Right in the middle of it, I had one of those annual reviews where it was all negative feedback I was hearing for the first time (of the “you should have known” variety) delivered by THREE bosses AT A RESTAURANT where I was boxed into the wall side of the booth. They were taking out their project frustrations on me. The review didn’t stop even though I was clearly trying my best not to sob openly, even putting on sunglasses to try and hide it. After bathroom break where I (unsuccessfully) tried to pull it together, the review CONTINUED.

    It was mortifying and cruel, and that workplace was so dysfunctional that I ended up apologizing to THEM. But on the plus side, I did resolve to get my ducks in a row and quit, and at my next (glowing) annual review, I accepted their praise while privately counting down the days to my resignation.

  52. mom of two*

    RE #5: Oh wow, I’ve almost hit the “10 years removed from college, no need to include graduation year” mark ;)

  53. Mockingdragon*

    LW3 – I think you did exactly the right thing in the moment. Let her compose herself offscreen, ignore it and focus on the work. That she turned off the camera implies to me that she didn’t want to be seen or noticed, which would make me less inclined to follow up.

    To avoid putting her on the spot, maybe consider following up in text form. Send an email or a slack message (or whatever) rather than a call where she has to respond immediately. She may get teary again remembering how embarrassed she was. Or may otherwise appreciate the chance to asynchronously collect her thoughts before replying.

  54. Jessica*

    Several people above have recommended to LW1 an anonymous tipoff to the boss. LW1, whatever you choose to do, please do not do this. It’s worse than every other choice, including nothing. People who have not lived through or thought about anonymous letters often think it’s the safe, easy way to deal with a sticky situation. It’s not. It’s an additional layer of cruelty on top of whatever the original problem is.

    People think an anonymous communication eliminates the aspect of who’s telling you and what your relationship with them is, and allows you to just get the information. But no actual human being who’s ever received an anonymous letter has ever thought “huh, wonder who sent this. Well, that doesn’t matter, I’ll just focus on the content!” The experience of receiving one immediately draws your focus to who sent it, and now you have two problems. I wish I had the words to describe to you how awful it feels to have to go through everyone you know in your mind, asking yourself if each of them might have done this. It undermines your trust in other people. People sometimes send anonymous letters because they don’t want to damage a relationship, but what you’re doing to that person is poisoning ALL their relationships.

    LW1, please don’t send her an anonymous letter. There’s a case to be made for trying to help or not, but don’t make her life worse.

    1. Shenandoah*

      I strongly agree. I’m torn on the say something or say nothing front – I feel like this really depends on the exact nuances that only LW would know.

      But, for all of the points Jessica raises, the anonymous letter option needs to be stricken from the list. LW, even if you are only looking at this from your own self interest, it is a bad idea. I cannot imagine a road back to a good working relationship if LW’s boss did discover she sent an anonymous letter.

  55. Selina Luna*

    In the case of OP 5, there might be an exception to the advise given by Alison. I work as a teacher, and while our resumes are fairly standard, in every job I’ve had, I’ve been required to submit all of my transcripts for every college I’ve attended to every school district where I’ve worked. I dropped out of my first school, worked for about 18 months and then went back to school somewhere else. I eventually graduated with a double major and I went to yet another school to get my teacher’s license (really not uncommon; no one looked twice at that), and every time I go to a new school district, I have to pay at least $30 to get fresh, new transcripts to keep on file in the district. If that’s the case, you may want to have an explanation ready (though not on your resume) for why you changed schools.

  56. boop the first*

    1. I agree with others that it would be okay to let it go, but mostly because all you say you have is a suspicion, which is not going to be enough to convince anyone of anything (unless they like conspiracies, apparently).

    Something about the photo tipped you off, but you didn’t say what or why. Have you seen it before? Does a reverse image search reveal that it is obviously fake? Because the discovery of an obviously fake photo at the very least would annoy manager enough to ask deeper questions and take it from there.

    1. boop the first*

      By this, I don’t think it would be successful to secretly investigate the photo and go “aha! your man is fake!”, but rather just to introduce the idea in subtle ways. If you’ve seen him modeling for stock photos, that seems like a normal thing to mention in passing as if you’re interested in his advice about side gigs, or you saw a very cool true crime documentary about fake oil riggers catfishing people and think everyone should check it out. The best way to make someone believe an idea is to make them believe they were the ones who came up with it…

  57. AKchic*

    LW1 – please do not get involved in your boss’s personal life. She already actively considers any input, questions, and essentially your very presence as a “direct challenge to her authority” (your words). She meant her throw away brag about a new beau to be just that, a throw away brag. If you try to hand her back her trash and tell her it’s trash, she will get very mad *at* you for stealing her happiness (or similar).
    I don’t know why, but this boss is not seeing you as an asset or even a helpful tool in the workbox. She is seeing you as an adversary and that’s not a good boss. Add in the personal aspect of *this* particular situation that you’ve brought to the table and my advice is going to be “let her learn on her own”. *IF* you were a personal friend, then I would suggest a kindly redirect towards learning how to spot catfishing, how to meet people in person safely, etc. But in this case, she isn’t a friend, and she isn’t even a friendly coworker/boss. All of that stuff can be handled by her friends (and/or family), whoever they are.

    I think you should maybe focus on how your boss treats you in the office and whether there is anything you can do to change it. Document what you can. Is there someone above her that you can talk to? Does she do similar to anyone else? Are there patterns to her behavior(s)?

  58. stitchinthyme*

    LW 1 – Even if someone does say something to your boss, she might not listen. I’m 99.9$ sure that the mother of a friend of mine has been caught up in a catfishing scam for the last 8 months. If you look at the FBI page on romance scams, this one hits just about every point in the description: she was a lonely widow and started talking to this guy online last summer, and within a very short time she announced to her family that she was getting married, despite the fact that she had never met him in person. Every time they’re supposed to meet, something happens. Some of the things that have prevented their meeting have been legit (like wildfires in CA), but it’s now been 8 months, they still haven’t met, and she’s definitely given him money — no one but her knows exactly how much, but it was enough that she had to ask her daughter for financial help. (Her daughter did not give her any money; leaving aside the fact that she can’t afford to, she also doesn’t want to enable her mother to get in deeper.)

    Various family members and friends have done their best to warn her that this guy probably doesn’t exist and that the situation is practically a textbook example of a scam…and her response has been to stop talking to them. She refuses to believe that this guy isn’t for real, and nothing anyone can say has swayed her in the least. She’s over 70 but as far as anyone knows she has no cognitive problems, so there’s literally nothing anyone can do but hope she doesn’t give this guy what little she has left.

  59. learnedthehardway*

    LW1 – you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first. In your situation, this means safeguarding your own career and income, before trying to rescue your manager, who isn’t at all likely to take your concerns seriously. In fact, as you have pointed out, your manager tends to take any questions or concerns you have about work issues as a personal attack. Guaranteed, they will see you suggesting they might be being catfished in their personal life as evidence that you are envious/jealous/generally evil.

    In this case, your manager has set the terms of your relationship – you are not supposed to question or make suggestions. It’s not your fault that you need to abide by the terms of this agreement that has been imposed on you – and you shouldn’t feel guilty about the fact that you’ve had to extend the terms to personal issues, as a way to safeguard yourself.

  60. fhqwhgads*

    For #1, do you have an infosec team? My employer’s IT sends out “scam of the week” emails, basically warning everyone about a new type of catfish to be wary of every week. The scams themselves are not necessarily new, although often they are, but the point is it’s a different one every time.
    If this were something the company already did, it might work to nudge the infosec team to use that type of example? But if that’s not a thing that already happens, then it’d seem weird. It might be more effective than it coming directly from the LW or from any colleague who has a better relationship with the boss than LW does who might get roped into to trying to warn. It’s a borrowed authority approach for sure, but it came to mind. And if this isn’t something your IT team does, it might be worth them considering it anyway.

  61. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I have an additional idea. It’s possible the manager also sees the relationship as strained, and may be trying to share in an attempt to create a different relationship. Or she’s so gaga for this guy that she’s telling everyone. I see absolutely no upside to OP sharing the belief this is a scam. I think OP can continue to have whatever her thoughts are and keep them to herself. And when the manager dips into a sharing session, make polite statements like, “sounds like you’re having a great time! Now, about those TPS reports…” and move on. Then if it blows up (and it may), be appropriately sympathetic.

  62. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – catfishing. I first heard about that after getting into “Love after Lockup” … in season 3 there are two women who are “catfishing” guys who aren’t too bright and refuse to see reality….

    And the same could happen to women … but, you really can’t convince them otherwise, that they’re being “had”, can you?

  63. Batgirl*

    Probably a more effective way to flag this is with fraud officers in the areas concerned, or with the dating website she used. They’d have more resources to investigate and might even flag it to her if you asked them to (while keeping your name out of it).

  64. CW*

    #2 – My aunt actually did this in 2009, at the height of the recession. She asked to be voluntary laid off, and her company approved it even though she wasn’t on the list. She was already 61 and had a pension after working there for 20 years. Like you, she had one year of severance pay, but didn’t need to take unemployment because they paid her 100% of her final year’s salary. The other difference? Her pension, which she started taking after her severance pay expired.

    Now, it depends on your company, but if you think it is right, it won’t hurt to ask. If they say no, I would say wait it out until you think you are comfortable enough to retire without severance. But like I said, it won’t hurt to ask. So ask first, you may get a yes.

  65. 2horseygirls*

    OP1: If there is a casual way to bring up the recent Jason Collier drama in conversation, it might give her a nudge toward checking out his new beau’s story a little more thoroughly, without actually implying anything nefarious.

Comments are closed.