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Life Stories

Love, Scams, and Unexpected Heroes

This lesson is designed to build your critical-thinking skills in English as you read, listen, and answer different types of comprehension and discussion questions.

Pre-Listening Activities for Teachers

Although these questions are related to classroom instruction, independent learners can reflect on the ideas and topic to prepare for the listening portion of the lesson.

1. Discussion: Start a discussion about online dating and ask the learners if they have any personal experiences or stories related to it. Prompt questions such as:

  • Have you or anyone you know tried online dating? What was the experience like?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of online dating?
  • Are there any risks or scams associated with online dating? Share any stories or cautionary tales you have heard.

2. Vocabulary Preview: Introduce and discuss the following vocabulary words that are relevant to the story:

  • Identity theft
  • Scam
  • Gullible
  • Deception
  • Profile
  • Naivety
  • Romance
  • Digital world
  • Apprehended
  • Cat-and-mouse game

3.  Predictions: Encourage the learners to make predictions about the story based on the provided introduction. Ask questions such as:

  • What do you think will happen to Emma after she signs up for the dating service?
  • Will a scam artist be successful in stealing Emma’s, or will he be caught? What factors will determine this?

4. Personal Reflection: Have the learners reflect on their own experiences with trust, deception, or online interactions. Ask questions like:

  • Have you ever been deceived or scammed in any situation? How did it make you feel?
  • What precautions do you take when interacting with people online?
  • Have you ever met someone online and formed a genuine connection or friendship?


Listen and read the story and answer the questions. Key vocabulary words are marked in bold.


A listening activity at Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab.

Emma had been single for what seemed like an eternity, and she decided it was time to give online dating a shot. So, armed with hope and a touch of naivety, she signed up for a dating service.

Little did Emma know that amidst the sea of eligible bachelors, there lurked an identity thief named Max who was notorious for his cunning scams, and he had set his sights on Emma’s unsuspecting heart. With a devious grin on his face, he created a profile that was as irresistible as a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

Emma, being a kind-hearted and a little gullible, quickly fell for Max’s charms. Their conversations were filled with laughter and shared interests in hiking and poetry, or so she thought. You see, Max had the art of deception down to a tee, and Emma’s heart was his to scam.

As the days went by, Max concocted an elaborate plan to steal more than just Emma’s heart. He tricked her into sharing her personal information under the guise of a romantic gesture. Unbeknownst to Emma, she had unwittingly handed over her financial details on a silver platter. The thief had struck gold.

But life has a funny way of intervening when we least expect it. Just as Max was about to disappear into the shadows with Emma’s identity, a quirky I-T specialist named Jack stumbled upon their digital love affair. Jack had been working tirelessly to track down the notorious Max and his activities.

Jack dove headfirst into the virtual world. He uncovered Max’s web of deceit and discovered Emma’s dire situation. Determined to set things right, Jack hatched a plan to expose Max and reclaim Emma’s stolen heart.

Under the pretense of being a fellow love interest, Jack reached out to Max. The thief, confident in his deception, took the bait, but Max didn’t know that he had just walked into the trap of a mastermind.

As Jack and Max exchanged messages, a virtual cat-and-mouse game ensued. With every keystroke, Jack collected evidence to bring Max to justice. The scammer, blinded by his own arrogance, fell deeper into the snare he had set for Emma.

Finally, the day of reckoning arrived. Jack had gathered enough proof to bring Max’s scamming empire crumbling down. The authorities were called, and Max was swiftly apprehended. Emma’s stolen heart was safe, and justice had been served.

Having played the hero in Emma’s life, Jack became more than just a computer whiz in her eyes. Their connection had gone beyond the digital realm, and they found themselves falling for each other in the midst of chaos. The very dating service that had brought Emma and Max together inadvertently paved the way for her to find true love with Jack.

So, let this story be a reminder that even in the world of online dating, where scammers lurk, and hearts can be stolen, a happy ending is still possible. Sometimes, the most unexpected heroes come to our rescue, and the gullible find their way back to love, armed with more wisdom and laughter.

Comprehension Questions: Self-Grading Quiz

Comprehension Questions in Text Format

1. Why did Emma decide to give online dating a try?
a) She was tired of being single.
b) She wanted to see if online dating was exciting.
c) She thought it would be a great way to find a language tutor.
d) She wanted to show her friends she could find love online.

2. How did Max win over Emma’s affection?
a) He sent her witty and charming messages.
b) He pretended to be a famous celebrity.
c) He promised her a rich lifestyle.
d) He offered to take her on a romantic vacation.

3. What personal information did Emma unknowingly share with Max?
a) Her home address and social security number.
b) Her favorite hiking trail and poetry collection.
c) Her mother’s maiden name and pet’s name.
d) Her bank account details and credit card information.

4. How did Jack stumble upon Emma and Max’s digital love affair?
a) He was assigned to investigate Max’s online activities.
b) He received a tip from a fellow IT specialist.
c) He accidentally clicked on Emma’s profile while browsing online.
d) He noticed Max’s name mentioned in a cybersecurity forum.

5. How did the story end?
a) Emma decided to forgive Max and gave him a second chance.
b) Jack ended up joining Max in his scam.
c) Max was arrested, and Emma’s stolen identity was recovered.
d) Max disappeared, leaving Emma heartbroken.

Answers and Explanation

1. Why did Emma decide to give online dating a try?

Correct answer: a) She was tired of being single and wanted to explore new possibilities.

Explanation: The story mentions that Emma had been single for a long time and wanted to give online dating a shot, indicating her desire to find love and explore new avenues.

2. How did Max win over Emma’s affection?

Correct answer: a) By sending her witty and charming messages.

Explanation: The story mentions that Emma quickly fell for Max’s charms, indicating that he won her over through his witty and charming messages.

3. What personal information did Emma unknowingly share with Max?

Correct answer: d) Her bank account details and credit card information.

Explanation: The story states that Emma unwittingly handed over her financial details on a silver platter, indicating that she shared her bank account details and credit card information with Max.

4. How did Jack stumble upon Emma and Max’s digital love affair?

Correct answer: c) He accidentally clicked on Emma’s profile while browsing online.

Explanation: The story mentions that Jack stumbled upon their digital love affair, implying that he accidentally discovered Emma and Max’s interaction by clicking on Emma’s profile while browsing the dating site.

5. How did the story end?

Correct answer: a) Max was arrested, and Emma’s stolen identity was recovered.

Explanation: The story states that Jack gathered enough evidence to bring Max to justice, indicating that Max was arrested, and Emma’s stolen identity was recovered as a result of Jack’s plan.

Discussion Questions

Easy (Recall and Comprehend):

  1. Have you ever heard of or tried online dating? What do you think it is?

Intermediate (Analyze and Interpret):

  1. Why do you think someone might want to steal another person’s identity?
  2. What are some potential risks or dangers associated with online dating?
  3. How can people protect themselves from scams or identity theft when using online dating services?
  4. In your opinion, what are some red flags or warning signs that indicate someone might not be genuine or trustworthy in online interactions?
  5. Reflecting on the story, what are some lessons or precautions that individuals should keep in mind when engaging in online relationships or sharing personal information?

Difficult (Analyze and Interpret)::

  1. Discuss the psychological tactics that scammers like Max might use to manipulate and deceive their targets in online dating scenarios.
  2. How do you think the advancements in technology have contributed to the rise of identity theft and scams in the digital age?
  3. Share your thoughts on the ethical implications of online vigilantes, like Jack, who take matters into their own hands to expose scammers. Are they heroes or should they leave it to the authorities?
  4. Explore the concept of trust in online relationships. How does trust differ in face-to-face interactions compared to virtual connections? Can trust be established purely through online communication?

    Class Activities

    Group Discussion (Verbal – Group): Organize a group discussion where learners can share their thoughts and opinions on various aspects of the story. Provide open-ended discussion questions such as:

      • How did the story make you feel? Were you surprised, worried, or relieved by the outcome?
      • What are some common tactics scammers use in online dating? How can individuals protect themselves from falling victim to scams?
      • Do you think online dating platforms have a responsibility to prevent scams and protect their users? What measures do you think they should implement?

    Creative Writing (Creative – Individual): Ask the learners to imagine an alternative ending to the story. Instruct them to write a short story or a creative piece that explores what happens after Max is apprehended and how Emma’s life unfolds. Encourage them to incorporate themes of resilience, personal growth, or unexpected positive outcomes. They can share their alternative endings with the class or in small groups for feedback and discussion.

    Language Game

    Here’s a possible classroom language game based on the story and topic:

    Language Game: “Scam or Genuine?”

    Objective: To test learners’ understanding of common scam tactics and their ability to distinguish between genuine and deceptive online interactions.


    1. Divide the learners into small groups.
    2. Provide each group with a set of scenario cards.
    3. Explain that the goal of the game is to identify whether the given scenario describes a genuine online interaction or a potential scam.
    4. Each group takes turns selecting a scenario card and discussing within their group whether they think it is a scam or genuine.
    5. After a group has reached a consensus, they announce their answer and provide a brief explanation for their decision.
    6. The facilitator reveals the correct answer and provides additional information or discussion points related to the scenario.
    7. Points can be awarded for correct answers, and the group with the highest score at the end of the game wins.

    Scenario Cards:

    1. Auction Prize Predicament: You win a rare item at an online auction and need to provide your credit card details to claim your prize. Genuine or Scam?

    2. Healthy Savings Deal: A reputable health store offers a discount on a genuine health supplement, and they ask for your credit card information for the purchase. Genuine or Scam?

    3. Streaming Trial Transaction: A legitimate streaming service offers a free trial, and they request your payment details for billing after the trial period. Genuine or Scam?

    4. Tech Support Troubles: Someone claiming to be from a well-known tech company calls, saying your computer has a virus, and they need remote access to fix it. Genuine or Scam?

    5. Travel Temptation: You receive an email offering an unbelievably cheap travel package but must pay upfront to secure the exclusive deal. Genuine or Scam?

    6. Lottery Windfall Woes: An email informs you that you’ve won a lottery you don’t remember entering, but they require a processing fee to release the winnings. Genuine or Scam?

    7. Bank Refund Realities: Your bank sends an email acknowledging an overcharge and requests your account details to process the refund. Genuine or Scam?

    8. Work-from-Home Hoax: An online ad promises significant income for minimal work from home, but you need to pay a registration fee to get started. Genuine or Scam?

    9. Credit Card Caution: Your bank calls to report genuine suspicious activity on your credit card and asks for your card details to verify your identity. Genuine or Scam?

    10. Phishing Email Pitfall: You receive an email appearing to be from a popular website, asking you to click a link and enter your login details for security purposes. Genuine or Scam?

    11. Inheritance Intrigue: A stranger contacts you, claiming to be a lawyer handling a deceased relative’s will, stating you’ve inherited a substantial amount but need to pay legal fees to access it. Genuine or Scam?

    12. Online Store Scheme: You find an online store offering high-end products at extremely low prices, but they only accept payment through untraceable methods. Genuine or Scam?

    13. Quiz Prize Situation: After completing an online quiz, you receive a message claiming you’ve won a prize, and they deliver it without requesting personal information. Genuine or Scam?

    14. Survey Scam Scenario: You’re invited to participate in a survey promising a cash reward, but they request your bank details for the prize transfer. Genuine or Scam?

    15. Charity Donation Dilemma: A charity calls asking for a donation to support a cause, but they insist on an immediate credit card transaction. Genuine or Scam?

    16. Romantic Rescue Reality: Someone you just met online claims to be in a dire situation, and after verifying their identity, you choose to help them out. Genuine or Scam?

    17. Cryptocurrency Problem: An email urges you to invest in a new cryptocurrency offering huge returns, but you must act quickly and share your bank details. Genuine or Scam?

    18. Vacation Rental Veracity: You find a beautiful vacation rental online, and the owner accepts secure online payment methods for the reservation. Genuine or Scam?

    19. Social Media Contest Scam: A message on social media claims you’ve won a contest you don’t remember entering, and to claim the prize, you need to provide personal details. Genuine or Scam?

    20. Job Offer: An email offers a high-paying job abroad with luxurious perks, but they require an upfront payment for visa processing. Genuine or Scam?

    Answer Key with Possible Explanations:

    1. Scam: Providing credit card details for a prize is often a red flag for scams.
    2. Genuine: Legitimate businesses may ask for payment details for purchases.
    3. Genuine: Free trials with future billing are common in legitimate services.
    4. Scam: Unsolicited tech support calls are often scams.
    5. Scam: Unbelievably cheap travel packages may be scams.
    6. Scam: Processing fees for unexpected lottery wins are typically scams.
    7. Genuine: Banks may need account details for legitimate refunds.
    8. Scam: Paying to start a work-from-home job is often a scam.
    9. Genuine: Banks may verify identities for suspicious activities.
    10. Scam: Emails asking to click links for login details are phishing scams.
    11. Scam: Legal fees for unexpected inheritances are common scams.
    12. Scam: Online stores with extremely low prices and untraceable methods are likely scams.
    13. Genuine: Legitimate quiz prizes can be delivered without further information.
    14. Scam: Surveys requiring bank details for cash rewards are often scams.
    15. Scam: Immediate credit card transactions for charity donations raise suspicion.
    16. Genuine: Helping someone in a genuine emergency after verification is possible.
    17. Scam: Urgent investment requests in cryptocurrency can be scams.
    18. Genuine: Secure online payment methods for vacation rentals are common.
    19. Scam: Social media contests asking for personal details can be scams.
    20. Scam: High-paying jobs abroad with upfront payments are often scams.
    Different AI technologies, including ChatGPT and an AI voice generator, were used in a collaborative way to prepare the content for this lesson.
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