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Love or Lies: Mom travels from Allegan to Algeria to Meet Fiancé

Love or Lies: Mom travels from Allegan to Algeria to Meet Fiancé. (WWMT)

From popular reality TV shows to the convenience of international dating websites, it's become more common for Americans to find foreign fiancés, Whether any relationship is built on love or lies is not for this story to decide, but there are dangers people need to know.

If love is a leap of faith, Lori Patchett is about to make a big jump. The Allegan County mom flies to Algeria on Sunday to meet her fiancé for the first time.

“He said I get to pick my own ring, so that's kind of exciting,” Patchett said.

Popular reality shows and the convenience of international dating website have made it popular.

The couple connected on an international dating website in July; about six weeks later, she said, Zineddine Zidane was ready to pop the question.

Patchett admits it felt fast, she said, “but he's like ‘if you know, you know’ and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's true' and then we've just been talking every single day.”

The whirlwind romance scares her family. Patchett’s 17-year-old son, the oldest of her four children, Aaric Patchett said, “I’m extremely concerned, I don’t want her to go overseas and then find someone that could do horrible things and keep her there, where I could never talk to her or go over to her house anymore.”

This will be the first time out of the country for Patchett and she doesn’t speak the local languages in Algeria.

“I’ve tried to persuade her to stay or maybe think about it some,” Aaric said.

Seated at the kitchen table at their dad’s house, his sister, 15, broke down crying as her big brother spoke.

Aaric said, “But that’s the worst case, I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that but you never know.”

Patchett said she loves her children very much and that she wouldn’t take the two-week trip to Algeria if she was even a little worried for her safety. She added if something doesn’t feel right when she arrives that she’ll get back on a plane and fly home.

“I would hate to have something bad happen to her and have them not know what happened to their mom,” said Joel Patchett, Lori Patchett’s ex-husband.

The U.S. Embassy in Algeria has seen of several cases in which American citizens are lured to the North African country, then held against their will in abusive situations. “American citizens who do not speak the local languages and are dependent solely on the one Algerian national are especially vulnerable,” the Embassy website advises.

The embassy also warns, “it's not uncommon for foreign nationals in Algeria to marry Americans solely for immigrational or financial purposes.”

Pratchett said she is not concerned, “No, because I can tell that he has a good heart.”

From the 5-year-age difference to the dating website were the couple connected, the international relationship checks at least a few of the boxes the U.S. Embassy lists as red flags.

Newschannel 3 also asked Patchett about her fiancé’s Facebook profile, which was created in June, a month before the couple started communicating.

Patchett said an ex-girlfriend deleted Zidane’s Facebook account.

“She went through his phone and deleted his stuff and he had to make a new account,” Patchett said.

When questioned, Patchett said, it all makes sense to her. She also points out all the warning signs listed by the Embassy Zidane does not meet.

“He has not asked me for a cent, like nothing, he has not asked me to buy him anything,” Patchett said.

She added her fiancé would rather stay in Alegria than come to America. Patchett said, “If I didn't have any kids he would like to live out there because he likes the country.”

Zidane said the same thing to Newschannel 3 during a video chat with Patchett at her home Friday.

The couple video chats every day for hours and the man pictured on Zidane’s Facebook page is the same person who appeared on Patchett’s phone screen.

“We’ve gotten really close to each other and he kind of reminds me of myself, but in a male version,” Patchett said.

Zidane said he believes some the skepticism surrounding their relationship spawns from the fact that he’s Muslim. Zidane also said if he lived in a European county he does not think people would question his motives as much.

“I love, I love, I love everything of Lori, so much, so much my heart,” Zidane said.

Patchett said she’s taken all the necessary precautions and plans to stay in close contact with her children while in Algeria for the two-week trip.

She also said she will check in with Newschannel 3 so we can follow her journey.

If all goes well, Patchett said, the couple will start the K-1 Visa application process so Zidane can come to the U.S. That would give the couple 90 days to decide if marriage is right for them.

“I trust that he doesn’t care about the Visa, he just wants to be with me," Patchett said.

Love or lies, she trusts her heart.

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