Land love bombing stories all begin the same way: “I met someone special.” Sometimes the word “met” is exaggerated: there is a screen involved. «And from there comes the bombing: soon an unknown flatterer / suitor will know everything about you, you will give him access to your life, to” sensitive data “, perhaps to your current account. In the end, having discovered the deception, you will tell yourself that you are stupid, and instead intelligence has nothing to do with it. Even culturally equipped people, graduates, sportsmen, career women fall into the trap ».

    Love bombing is not love

    Roberta Lippi knows something about love bombing because she dedicated a very successful podcast on Free Stories. At first she was looking for testimonials, now she gets letters like #MeToo: “It happened to me too”. Of this curious mechanism, as old as the world (it is mental manipulation, she was the first to experience the snake on Eve), but with a new name and the aggravating circumstance of digital technology, we talk about it on September 29 at the Milano Privacy Week.

    The week of privacy

    Milan Privacy week (26-30 September) is organized by Privacy Network, an Italian non-profit association that involved researchers, lawyers, IT scientists, managers, philosophers and sociologists. Objective: to understand what to believe and when to be wary. In 2021, the “romantic scammers” (a nice name here too, they are scammers, however “romantic” they may be) “earned” four and a half million euros. But it’s not just a question of money: relationships, feelings, image and reputation are involved. Victims, according to the postal police, mainly women in their fifties, but not only.

    Love bombing on Netflix

    Books, films and TV series tell the strategies, but many tend to downplay: “It’s fiction, it’s novel”, and instead reality surpasses fantasy. The Tinder scammer, Netflix docufilm, is dedicated to Simon Leviev, or rather Shimon Hayut, who passes himself off as the son of a diamond tycoon, hooks up girls on Tinder and clears their accounts. Roberto Cazzaniga, former volleyball player of the Italian national team, for fifteen years was the “boyfriend” of Maya, a non-existent girl (the photos were of the top model Alessandra Ambrosio). The fake love story cost him 700 thousand euros in gifts, which ended up in the pockets of a small gang (there were three of them). Victims thoroughly researched to make them feel loved.

    Why the trap works

    Why do we tend to trust? Because we want to believe we have found the right person»Explains Roberta Lippi. “There is the one who believed in love and was cheated. He asked for a small loan and repaid it to get a bigger one later. She didn’t know she was one of many. The money was making strange rounds, there were other scams standing at the same time, there was a script, a script played to perfection. Fake photos, even stolen from famous people, fake names, Facebook accounts, all made up. And then, after the last transfer, the shame, the inability to admit the scam for fear of being laughed at ».

    Narcissist in love: how to recognize and avoid it

    A perfect love

    Elena says that the first month, in the honey of love bombing, it was the most beautiful of his life. She had never felt so in tune, so understood. Instead she had been “studied” through social media, a terrace overlooking our privacy. It was too good to be true, and in fact it wasn’t true. Victims compare their feelings to those of gambling: you have won once, you have had an experience of absolute perfection, you can still have it. “On the other side is a narcissist»Says Lorita Tinelli, psychologist, exit counselor and author with others of an essay on Gaslighting the most subtle technique of psychological manipulation (Edizioni Giuridiche Oristano): it is a manipulation technique that pushes the victim to convince himself that he is in the wrong, that he has invented everything.

    Love bombing: the identikit of the scammer

    “He can act for money, but also out of a desire for power and control. When it goes from virtual to real, the love bombing continues. Care and sweetness, wonderful moments until the person targeted does not completely surrender, she is isolated from friends and relatives, often opposed to the relationship, “tamed”. She falls into depression, drinks, often thinks of killing herself ».

    A close-up view of a young woman using her smartphone

    Dangerous relationships 4.0

    This pattern is also not new. The novel Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos, 1792, cited in the podcast, illustrates this beautifully: the Viscount of Valmont seduces the charming and chaste Madame de Tourvel and then breaks her heart with a cruel farewell letter. The narcissist victim can be convinced to do anything, spy on colleagues, steal, shoot sexy videos that will become tools of blackmail. Or they’ll end up fueling the non-consensual porn streak on the net.

    “It’s the same mechanism that cults use. A fragile, misunderstood, undervalued person suddenly finds himself loved, considered important, supported. He loses the sense of reality. They know everything about her, they know what’s best for her »explains Tinelli. “Love bombing is a sneaky tool. It allows you to extort confidences, favors, money. Often the projects of cohabitation and marriages are imaginary ».

    How to defend yourself?

    Set up your profile so that only (real) friends can see itAdvises a former hacker who now works for the postal police. «If we are faced with a possible romantic scammer, the search by name will lead to a fake account. Instead, by clicking on the photo with the right mouse button, the “copy image address” option will appear: from the Chrome browser, select Google Images to find out if that shot appears in other contexts and get a clearer idea of ​​who is there. other party “. These precautions are not enough, but they are already something.

    Help to the victims

    “When everything has already happened, the real job is to recognize your own experience, give it a name and get out of it»Assures Tinelli. “It’s not easy. The person disoriented by love bombing mystifies reality, has some suspicions, fears of losing the relationship and goes on anyway. The relatives come to me asking for help, sometimes the victims, at the stage in which they begin to realize the situation, but still do not want to abandon their dream, and then at the end of the story. Exploited, discarded, they doubt themselves: the path of reconstruction can be long“. The Beatles were right: all you needs is love. But not bombing.