I woke up with a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I'd been battling depression most of my life.
After my last relationship ended months earlier, I was struggling.
The only things that kept me going were my 11-year-old son and country music singer Keith Urban.
His songs had saved me when I was suicidal in my 20s and I'd been a fan ever since.
So that morning, when I checked my phone and saw I'd been sent a Facebook friend request, I gasped.
It was from Keith Urban!
My heart pounded as I clicked 'accept' and we started chatting.
'I was drawn to you,' he said when I asked why he'd chosen me out of all the admirers on his Facebook page.
'I'm your number-one fan,' I typed.
Despite his busy schedule, Keith kindly spent the next hour chatting with me.
It was the most surreal feeling to be in close contact with my idol.
After that, I spent more time talking to Keith through Facebook.
'I want to meet you,' he wrote.
'That'd be a dream come true,' I replied.
I was floating on cloud nine and felt like the luckiest woman in the world.
But I kept our friendship a secret. I couldn't risk the gossip mags finding out and ruining everything.
When my phone rang one morning at 3am, I woke with a start.
Keith was calling me through Facebook Messenger!
Terrified something bad had happened, I answered.
"Hey babe, it's me… Keith," a man drawled.
But the thick Indian accent gave it away.
I'd been hoodwinked by some imposter!
I hung up, feeling ashamed.
The next few days were hard.
"What's wrong, Mum?" my son asked.
Where did I begin?
I'd come so close to my idol, only to be let down.
Days later, I received a message on Twitter from a man called Keith Urban.
I know you're my biggest fan, he wrote.
Maybe this time it was real?
We started talking and he told me about the problems between him and his wife, Nicole Kidman.
"I want to divorce her, but I need money," he begged.
Keith had helped me, and I felt sorry for him.
I transferred $200 to his account without hesitation.
It was all I could afford, but I hoped it'd help.
But afterwards, I started to wonder: did a celebrity really need money?
After checking the bank details, I saw it belonged to someone in Nigeria, not Nashville!
How had I been so foolish?
I reported the profile and tried to get on with my life, but some days my depression grew so bad I'd find myself in tears.
So when I got another message from another Keith Urban, I was more thrilled than wary.
"We should be together," he wrote.
His messages were a light in my darkness.
There was just one problem: he needed money for the flight to Australia.
Again, without hesitating, I gave him $400, then I realised this man was an imposter, too!
Now, I feel so ashamed for being deceived three times, but the truth is when you suffer from depression, you're an easy target.
Luckily, my bank was able to return the money I'd lost because funds are tight when you're on a pension.
I know the real Keith Urban's married and would never do anything so deceitful.
I'm sharing my story to stop other women falling prey to evil scammers.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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Australian Women's WeeklyJun 30, 2022