Romance fraud victim from Derbyshire 'considered committing suicide'

The victim is speaking out as part of Scams Awareness Month
The victim is speaking out as part of Scams Awareness Month

An elderly man from Derbyshire, who was scammed out of £6,000, has spoken of the devastating impact romance fraud has had on his life.

The man, who is in his 80s and from Chesterfield, said he contemplated taking his own life after a con artist racked up a £6,000 debt on his credit card.

The victim was targeted on an online dating site and spoke to a woman he believed was genuinely looking for love.

He said: “We spent an enormous amount of time on the phone and messaging.

“At one point she arranged to come down to Chesterfield to visit me but she had maxed her cash card and couldn’t come, unless I could send her my card details.

“In hindsight how stupid was that? The next thing I knew she had run up £6,000 worth of debt on my credit card.”

The victim spoke with the fraudster for just a matter of weeks and quickly had very strong feelings for the woman. He was left devastated when it became clear he had been the victim of a con artist.

He said: “I had fallen in love with her but in hindsight it was an infatuation.

“I couldn’t put petrol in the car, I couldn’t even buy food and I considered committing suicide. It was the police officer who said steady on you are ok, go and see a doctor.

“Every night when I go to bed I think about how I was ripped off by this female.”

The criminal quickly moved the victim away from the messaging service on the dating site – a tactic used to circumvent the processes put in place by sites to help prevent this type of

crime.

He said: “I have found on dating sites that it takes a long time to build up a rapport and that people are unwilling to give their email or telephone numbers. But she gave those to me immediately she wanted me into her net.”

The victim is now speaking out as part of Scams Awareness Month and had this advice for other people looking for love online.

He said: “Don’t give your credit card details to anybody and be suspicious, if you are a man, of any female who appears too welcoming.”

Fortunately this victim was refunded his money; however, the emotional and psychological impact of the crime is still being felt.

Derbyshire police’s fraud assessment and protect officer, Tammy Barnes, said: “This type of crime targets the very best in people’s character.

“Generous, kind and loving people are those who are, sadly, the most likely to fall victim and often the cost is far greater than just any money lost.

“Fortunately, there are some simple ways that users of dating websites can keep themselves safe. And most importantly - if you think you have been a victim don’t suffer in silence. Contact us and take back control.”

Never give money to people you meet online, no matter what emotional story the person uses.

Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online. Revealing your full name, date of birth and home address may lead to your identity being stolen.

Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.

Pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service. Fraudsters tend to want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.