A British woman says she was left heartbroken after she realized a successful businessman she had fallen in love with was not at all who he said he was.
Alison Eastwood, 35, of Durham, met Marco de Hinojosa, 36, at a bar in South Korea while traveling the world to meet new people.
Hinojosa told Eastwood he was from Peru and had moved to South Korea to run his import business. They hit it off and agreed to meet for another date.
After a few dates, Hinojosa said he was going on a planned trip to the Philippines with some of his friends.
“He left a bunch of roses on my doorstep before he went and we kept in touch constantly on Facebook,” said Eastwood, who was an English teacher at the time.
Eastwood said she couldn’t wait to look at the pictures from Hinojosa’s trip, but he told her he dropped his camera at sea.
“He seemed genuinely gutted,” Eastwood said. “I felt sorry for him.”
Eastwood continued her relationship with Hinojosa. They went on hiking trips and salsa-dancing dates.
On one date, Hinojosa picked Eastwood up in his new car, which had a baby seat in the back. He told her he borrowed the vehicle from his neighbor, who recently had a baby.
“I didn’t suspect anything because the culture was quite different and people do tend to borrow cars from friends more than here in the U.K.,” Eastwood said.
Hinojosa also told her that he’d been driving a pregnant co worker to hospital appointments.
“I thought he was being kind and helpful,” Eastwood told The Sun. “He was such a nice guy it seemed plausible. I was really falling for him.”
They spent several nights a week together, staying up until the early hours of the morning talking about their future dreams.
“We were both serious,” Eastwood explained. “We talked about me moving to Peru and I joked that things were only serious if you had a toothbrush at the other person’s place. I was keen to visit his place. But he said it was difficult as he shared with friends.”
After four months, Eastwood decided to show Hinojosa how serious she felt about their relationship.
She bought him a toothbrush to keep at her house and wrote a letter telling him she loved him. Hinojosa’s reaction surprised Eastwood.
“It wasn’t the reaction I’d been expecting,” she said. “And when he went home that night he didn’t take the card, which I thought odd.”
The next day, Hinojosa told Eastwood he wanted to talk.
“He said he had to tell me something and that I’d hate him for it,” she recalled. “Then he just blurted out that he had a wife.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I kept waiting for him to say it was a joke.”
Not only did Hinojosa have a wife, but he had a child on the way. What’s more is that Hinojosa’s wife lived only a few blocks away from Eastwood.
“I loved Hinojosa but there was no way I wanted to wreck a marriage, especially with a child involved,” said Eastwood. “My head was spinning trying to make sense of it all. I don’t consider myself stupid or naive, so how the hell had I not suspected anything?”
She left in tears and received a phone call from Hinojosa’s wife that night. She told Eastwood that Hinojosa’s business was not successful and that she had been supporting him. She added that the trip Hinojosa went on was actually a “babymoon” for them.
Hinojosa’s web of lies quickly untangled. It became clear the baby seat in the back of the car Hinojosa “borrowed” from a neighbor was his. Eastwood said he’d even been speaking to his wife in Spanish on the phone when he was with her.
“All the pieces came together,” Eastwood said. “I was horrified. I felt so stupid and embarrassed that he had conned me.
“Had he really cared for me or had that been a lie too?”
Hinojosa went to the school where Eastwood worked and begged for forgiveness. He showed up waving divorce papers in his hands and threatened to make a scene if she didn’t see him.
Eastwood read the divorce papers and asked him to leave. She said she realized she could never trust Hinojosa.
“I could not believe the extent of his betrayal and the trouble he had gone to hiding his other life from me,” she said. “I had no idea at all that Hinojosa had any secrets — especially not a pregnant wife just streets away. I was devastated and heartbroken for her — and for me. I told him I deserved better, as did his wife, and not to contact me.”
Eastwood moved back to the U.K. and is now warning others to be wary of con men like Hinojosa.
“I just want to share this as a warning,” she added. “It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re traveling. I did, and I paid a high price.”