Chikae Ide, a manga artist, shared an experience that had inspired her latest work, Poison Love. It was actually quite a story, and a cautionary tale to anyone looking for online love. According to the report by Asahi Shimbum, Ide spent 75 million yen ($523,200) on a scammer posing as Mark Ruffalo.
They first started talking on Facebook in February 2018. Ide at first could not believe that a Hollywood celebrity was messaging her. The poser started flirting with Ide by admiring her work, and claiming that he was divorcing his wife at that time. He also sympathized with Ide’s past to garner her trust.
Ide was 70 years old at this time, and “Mark” assured her that he did not care about their age difference.
Ide’s doubts were dispelled when they engaged in a 30-second video call. The face of Mark Ruffalo appeared on her screen, and she was convinced that it was actually him. What she did not know is that it is a deepfake.
A deepfake is an artificial intelligence feature in which a person can have someone else’s exact likeness. It can easily deceive others, which is why it is being utilized in various crimes. In 2019, the US government enacted a bill that will limit the usage of deepfakes.
Ide fell further in love with the Mark Ruffalo poser. She did not take into account one of her friend’s warnings that the English written by “Mark” did not seem native. This contrasts with the real Mark Ruffalo, who was raised in the United States.
With the romance blossoming, Ide and “Mark” married online unofficially. “Mark” then started asking her for money. It started as $1,100 for his “missed plane ticket” to the west coast. He gave her a bank account with a different name because his “own” bank account was being monitored by the court.
“Mark” kept on asking for more money until Ide was forced to use up all her savings. It has come to the point of Ide asking for help from her eldest son. She made him take out consumer loans and used his savings as well.
“Mark” promised to pay her back, but Ide did not receive anything in return.
“Mark” then sent her a bag to her home. It contained black papers with white powder and a poisonous oil. When Ide placed the black papers in the oil, they were revealed to be authentic $100 notes. Ide then spent her time looking for more oil so that she can have more money to support “Mark”. He also stated that the black notes were cocaine.
Ide’s Gucci sponsorship money and art fee were lent to him instead as he continued to ask for more money. This now includes different bank accounts with different names. It was spiralling out of control until Ide’s children intervened.
Eventually, breaking free from the poser’s manipulation, Ide wrote her ordeal and brought the black notes to a police station in 2021. Ide’s daughter notably said, “If your husband is a millionaire celebrity, then why are you so badly in need of money?”
Ide’s daughter also gave her mother an ultimatum: if “Mark” does not pay back the 200,000 she lent, then he is a scammer.
However, the police cannot locate the Mark Ruffalo poser so far.
Ide reflected back on her experience, and stated that the poser found a way to fill the void in her heart.
It was such a stupid experience. But I hope people take it as a lesson. I apologize to my friends and acquaintances who lent money to me while I refused to listen to them. And I swear I will continue to draw manga until I die to pay them back.Chikae Ide
With this, Ide immortalized her experience in a new manga, Poison Love. The cover page can be seen below: