Imagine spending 35 years of your life researching incredibly complex topics such as economics, pornography, human trafficking and violence against women, only to find yourself the victim of a romance scam. This is the true story of one amazing woman.
Born in Finland, and spending much of her life traveling and studying around the world, feminist author Elina Juusola-Halonen has always considered herself to be an intelligent woman. So how did she fall into the clutches of an online scammer? This is the question central to her new release, “Love on the Line,” in which she shares her personal journey, how she recovered with dignity, and the nitty gritty details of this global industry.
At her recent Brisbane book launch (held at Avid Reader Bookstore), Elina shared how honoured she was to reveal her work, after spending many, many years dreaming about becoming an author.
Having studied in Sweden, Finland, and Australia, and spent 35 years of her life researching thought-provoking social issues, along with philanthropy, economics and modern marketing, Elina has certainly been a busy woman – and while she always dreamed of releasing a romance novel, life seemed to get in her way.
Sure, she had ‘written articles and mentored PHD students,’ but still, her dream book just hadn’t come to fruition. It wasn’t until Elina went through her painful journey of recovering from an online romance scam, that she found it the right time to write the romance novel she’d always dreamed of.
‘Love on the Line’ is, however, far from your average ‘romance scam’ book. Somehow, Elina has managed to incorporate not only her personal journey, but also her research into the connections between the sex industry and romantic scams; alongside a hearty dollop of humour and her passion for love stories.
And true to form, this romance novel addict has managed to give her book a very unexpected twist.
“First of all, it gives you a happy ending. I insist on a happy ending,” she says joyfully. “Like in a romance book. I love to read romance! [Writing it] cured my depression instantly.”
Elina’s story is also fascinating, as it busts the myth that there is ‘a certain type’ of person who can be scammed. QUT Researcher/Lecturer, Dr Cassandra Cross (who also spoke at Elina’s book launch) revealed that while there are still a lot of misconceptions about ‘who’ can be a victim, our focus should be on the perpetrators, as opposed to victim blaming.
“The reality is that anyone could become a victim. We all have a vulnerability. We have to respect the fact that the offenders…know exactly how to find that vulnerability and weakness. That’s their profession.”
Cross also discussed the extent of scamming in Australia, revealing that in 2014, an ACCC report released through Scamwatch showed dating & romance scams to be #1 type of online scamming – costing Australians alone, around $28 million.
“It’s one of the least reported crimes, [so figures are] likely to be much higher,” she said.
But despite the statistics, Elina hopes that her book will equip women to go forward and conquer their traumas, or hopefully avoid online scams altogether.
“We should not despair. We should become unstoppable, and take action to help others.”
Dr Cassandra Cross agrees. “What’s unique is Elina’s strength to come forward, to be honest about it. It’s going to take a lot more people like Elina to come forward, [to create] a cultural shift.”
Make ‘Love on the Line’ one of the books you read in 2016! Head to Elina’s website to find out more.
More praise for ‘Love on the Line’!
“This is an opportunity to ride with an original thinker…an innately curious mind, who takes us on an adventure. To understand and transform something – that was potentially quite debilitating, really disempowering – to [something] that really becomes quite empowering and respectful, and to enable that for other people who have been a participant of romance scams.” – Chris Henderson (Courage Catalyst and founder of Women Howling at the Moon).