Manga artist Chikae Ide, who is known as “queen of ladies’ comics” for authoring multiple works targeted towards women in her career, recently revealed that her new work Poison Love, which follows a lovestruck woman who is scammed of 75 million yen in the pretext of an international romance, is based on her true story.
Ide, 74, said that the protagonists of the story are herself and the man she believed was Mark Ruffalo, the actor popularly known for his role as Bruce Banner in the Avengers films and also Chuck Aule in Shutter Island.
The scammer came in touch with Ide in 2018, when he reached out to her on her Facebook account claiming to be Ruffalo. The message was written in English.
Though suspicious about the person’s identity at first, the author responded using the translation function in her personal computer and ended up being flattered by the praise that this fake Ruffalo subsequently directed at her. Ide was 70 at that time.
When Ide opened up about her past, including her tumultuous marriage at 30 to a man who was not just debaucherous, but also violent, the scammer sympathized with her and told her he would never make her feel sad again.
In this period, the English ‘writing’ skills of this fake Ruffalo, who is listed as born in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, was questioned by the author’s friend in the United States.
Despite the misgivings, the she agreed to have a video call with the scammer, and all her doubts were assuaged in this 30-second interaction, where he successfully managed to hoodwink Ide using Deepfake technology.
“I’m sure it was Mark himself who was behind the screen chatting with me,” Ide told Asahi, adding that her feelings towards this man only intensified after this incident.
In September of 2018, they got married unofficially online. “Ruffalo” had previously mentioned that he was in negotiations to divorce his wife.
However, once they got together, the scammer started asking for money multiple times under various guises, including missing a flight ($1,100), having trouble cashing his performance fee ($4000) and even injuring his leg ($3000).
She wired him a total of 75 million yen ( $523,200) over a period of three and a half years, including over 10 million yen in one particular month.
She exhausted her savings, sold her jewelry, auctioned her original drawings and even delayed paying her assistant and the house bills to comply with her new husband’s requests. She also took money from her eldest son’s savings and used up most of the money she earned from the 35 million yen contract she had with luxury fashion brand Gucci at that time.
The scammer even claimed to have leukemia in attempts to extort more money from her.
Though Ide was pretty convinced that she was going through “tests that she must pass for a future with her lover,” her daughter found the whole affair fishy after stumbling upon a distraint warrant sent by a housing loan company to the manga artist’s home.
She intervened when she realized what was going on and gave an ultimatum to Ide, lending 200,000 yen to the artist and asking her to get it back from her “husband.”
However, they did not receive a single penny of that amount and that’s when Ide’s children took control of the situation and helped her escape the clutches of the scammer, with whom she was deeply involved.
She made a rough outline of the money that she had wired the scammer and handed it over to a nearby police station on June 2021, along with the black notes that the scammer had given her during this period claiming to be his hidden fortune.
Ide hadn’t met this husband of hers even once during this entire period.
She wrote the new novel, Poison Love, as a fictionalized account of her ordeal in hopes that people took it as a lesson.
“It was such a stupid experience,” Ide said. “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.”
Source: Asahi Shimbun
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