Women Targeted In Romance Scam Lose £105K

A senior PSNI officer has warned people looking for love online to be on the alert for fraudsters, after two women from Northern Ireland were scammed out of a total of £105,000 in a romance ploy ahead of Valentine's Day.

The two cases in counties Antrim and Down were reported to police in the last fortnight, and saw women tricked by scammers who befriended and duped them into sending substantial sums of money.

The first report was made on Monday 04 February, after a man claiming to be in the US army had made contact with a woman from Northern Ireland.

The pair had been in touch for around a month before things became romantic, and the man told a number of stories, including that he was being detained by authorities in Africa in a bit to get her to give him money.

The victim believed the fraudster and was conned into sending him £65,000.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "She truly believed this man was genuine as she had found a profile online that matched his details."

The second report, involving a woman in North Down, was reported on Sunday 10 February.

A woman had entered into an online relationship with a man claiming to live in the USA where he worked as an engineer. They had been in touch since November and the man eventually asked her for money for projects. She trusted the man and believed his story, and sent him payments totalling £40,000. 
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CS Walls continued: "Sadly, for these two women they will not get their money back as they gave it to the fraudsters voluntarily. These reports illustrate how scammers don't care about their victims; that they're happy to take advantage of people's vulnerability and good faith. Unfortunately, there is no end to the methods fraudsters will use to dupe people into giving them money.

"Romance scammers don't prey on a specific gender, sexuality, race or age. They target everyone, just don't let it be you. Don't let yourself become a statistic. Protect yourself if you want to use the internet in search of love or companionship.  

"Start off with a reputable website. Look out for someone asking lots of questions, but not giving any detail about themselves. Don't ever hand over any money or send goods such as iPhones or iPads. Never let anyone you don't know or trust transfer money into your bank account. 

"If you want to buy that something special for someone on Valentine's Day, make sure you shop from reputable websites and that you keep your details safe. There will be lots of enticing offers so think smart and stay scam wise."

Anyone who believes they have been targeted in this way is urged to report it to Action Fraud via their website here, or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or by calling the non-emergency line 101.

Further advice and information can also be obtained by visiting the Scamwise NI Facebook page or via the NI Direct website.


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