Elderly woman conned out of £100,000 by Nigerian 'romance fraud' scammer

Police are warning computer users to be aware of 'romance fraud'.
Police are warning computer users to be aware of 'romance fraud'.

Criminals are using social media to con people into handing over thousands of pounds – with one victim duped out of more than £110,000.

Vulnerable victims are being manipulated into sending cash to people they believe are genuine love interests but are in fact criminals.

Conmen are using social media to target individuals looking for love and companionship and after building what appears to be a loving relationship the fraudster will create a crisis

situation and ask the victim for money to help them.

Once money is sent, the conman will return again and again asking for more and more cash. One victim from Derbyshire was conned out of more than £110,000 by a conman believed to

be from Nigeria.

The widow, in her late 70s, struck up the friendship on Facebook. After more than 900 messages were exchanged, in which the conman said family members had been shot, he

told the victim that he needed money to travel to the UK.

Over the course of six months she transferred £116,000 – with a promise that the money would be paid back but it never was.

After a thorough investigation by Derbyshire Constabulary the case has now been passed to authorities in Nigeria to investigate.

Digital Police Community Support Officer, James Land, said: “Online dating can be a brilliant way of finding love in the modern world; however, people need to keep their wits about them.

“The emotional relationships that people strike up online can be very strong – even when they may never have met in person.

“Conmen rely on that connection to extract money from victims, especially as we move closer to the festive period and people may feel increasingly lonely and isolated.

“And once they know they have the potential to get their hands on cash they will keep coming back for more.

“If you are concerned about anyone you know who you think maybe potentially a victim of dating fraud then you should contact Action Fraud as soon as you can on 0300 123 2040 or

online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.”

While the majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people looking for romance, people who are using these sites should be wary when entering into a new relationship –

and especially if money is ever asked for.

Here are five top tips on how to keep safe when looking for love online:

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.