Admirable Artists

Modern Fairytales


Jan Marshall sits at the front of an intimate group, no more than ten in all. The fire provides warmth on the cold winter’s day, building the atmosphere in the rustic setting of The Book Wolf’s Goldfields-era red-brick walls.

Jan describes herself as a Romance Scam Survivor, her book detailing her experiences of being conned into giving away all of her money to a poser she believed was her future life partner.

Incredible as it sounds on the surface, the way she describes it makes it apparent that the brutality of such scams is the sophistication with which they lure unwitting victims in with increasing emotional hooks until a person resurfaces to find their harsh new reality is poverty, realising their hard-earned and carefully-invested savings are building the bank accounts of professional scammers.

Jan is an intelligent woman who has worked in high-level jobs, at the height of her career earning $1.5K per annum. However, her tertiary education, alongside high-level planning and management skills required in her role as a change manager, did not protect her from the foibles of love, the distraction of emotion and the penalty of having been taken advantage of, purely for being an intrinsically-caring person.

Never one to wallow in self-pity, Jan took charge of her situation by researching what preventative action could have been taken if the institutions she used (including banks, wire transfer services and police) had been more equipped to recognise the patterns of a scam, thereby advocating for others in the same position. Discovering a hole in support services for victims of scams – by finding none when she needed them – she set up her own: her website is full of information from recent research, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking for information within the scam environment.

As I listen to her speak, nestled in the warmth of The Book Wolf’s orange fire under the dark wooden beams, I sense the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the safety and security I am experiencing and the horror of the story Jan is delivering, matter-of-factly stating how one action led to another and another, until her personal circumstances had irrevocably changed.

It occurs to me that I am experiencing the telling of a modern fairytale: I am witnessing a person with extraordinary experiences departing to innocents the dangers of a situation in a cautionary tale – in this case, people who have not been subjected to such a scam, especially at this level. This feeling is extended by the intimate audience around the fire, in the timeless atmosphere of the heritage building in which we are gathered.

Jan Marshall is living testament to what can be achieved with a never-say-die attitude. Jan Marshall is a survivor.

For more on Jan Marshall go to

For Jan’s book go to

For Jan’s latest not-for-profit to support scam victims – Life After Scams – go to

For more on The Book Wolf go to

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