Woman Sent Online Stranger $1.4M, Is Desperately Hoping He's Real


A woman who sent an online stranger more than a million dollars without ever having met him is desperately trying to keep her positive thinking intact. Even though her boyfriend’s voice has differed and he keeps asking for money despite the fact that he has no plans to meet her, she is hoping against hope that he’s a real person and that Dr. Phil will unite them on his show. Because, you know, that’s all this guy really needed: Free plane fare and an audience.

This story has everything: A man named Chris Olsen who keeps getting arrested every time he tries to leave Africa, demands for bail money, and a phone voice that’s changed repeatedly over 17 months of communication. And it’s got something even more important: A lonely woman who would do anything for love, including overpaying for a fairy tale that will never materialize.

While it’s likely clear to everyone outside of her bubble of delusion that Chris Olsen isn’t real, Sarah is determined to meet him. In fact, she’s enlisted the help of Dr. Phil to bring Chris to America so that he and she can be united and live happily ever after. Despite her two failed marriages, Sarah says, she still believes in love.

But what’s going on here is much more than just a belief in love, it’s a woman clinging to the fantasy that the person she feels connected to is real flesh and blood and, probably unconsciously, the fervent hope that the money she’s spent hasn’t been lost in vain and that the hell she’s gone through is worth it. She’s sent Chris money thousands of times and has even sold an apartment building to send him $550,000 to bail him out of jail after he was “falsely accused for money laundering.”

The most difficult part of this is that Sarah is so intent on believing that Chris is real (she’s “95 percent sure” he is) that she’s taken his words, which sound like every other spam email that you get informing you that you’ve won millions or that someone wants to buy your coffee table on Craigslist but will need to send you a check for $25,000 for it, and turned them very personal, saying that he’s a poet. “He calls me his flower,” Sarah says. “He asks ‘has she been watered today?'”

Hopefully the show will help her get some closure, but I can see Sarah believing that she was tricked when Dr. Phil doesn’t produce the man of her dreams.

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