A victim of online dating fraud is sharing her experiences ahead of this year’s Valentine’s Day to help others avoid being affected by this type of crime.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, lost £20,000 and laundered more than £200,000 after three years of contact with a man whom she met and communicated with solely online.
She is speaking out with the purpose of protecting people in similar situations where they may become vulnerable to convincing detailed deceptions.
Woman’s message of support to people dating online
Hampshire Constabulary has recorded an interview with the woman to give a candid and emotive account of the fraud and its implications for her life.
The interview forms part of a Hampshire Constabulary film reconstructing the events of an elaborate manipulation based on a false promise of marriage and a new life together.
Speaking during the film, the woman who is known as Jenny to protect her identity, said: “What I really want to get across to anybody or everybody is the minute anyone asks you to send them money, if you’ve never met them or received money from them, just don’t do it - don’t do it, contact the police or talk to somebody else about it.
“I never thought that I was naïve; I didn’t think anything like this could ever happen to me – it could happen to anybody.”
Hampshire Constabulary crime prevention advisor Sarah Cohen said:
“We’re proud of ‘Jenny’ for her courage and decision in wanting to protect others by talking about these distressing events and their effects on life.
“The consequences of romance and online dating fraud can be emotionally destructive because offenders prey upon a victim’s deepest desires and longing for love.
“Police are committed to giving support to victims of fraud, and strengthening awareness of the sophisticated and callous tactics used by criminals.
“Hampshire Constabulary has introduced Operation Signature over the past year to help protect vulnerable victims of fraud.
“I’m encouraging as many people as possible to watch and listen to this film. The real experiences of victims such as ‘Jenny’ have a powerful positive impact on people’s attitudes towards being safer online when looking for love.”
Key advice to avoid romance fraud
● Never send money to someone you’ve met online;
● Never transfer money on someone else’s behalf;
● Money laundering is a crime;
● Be careful with what information or images you share online.
For more advice, visit the national Action Fraud website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-romance-scams
Victims or anyone who knows a victim of romance fraud can phone Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Signature.
Victims with hearing loss can phone via Mini-com on 18001 101 or send a text message to 07781 480999: http://www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/contact-us/deaf-access/
In an emergency, always dial 999.
Reports can also be made to Action Fraud by phoning 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk