Woman scammed in romance fraud bravely speaks out
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A woman from South Northamptonshire who was scammed out of her life savings by a man she thought loved her, has bravely spoke out in a bid to warn others.
Jessica* met a man on Zoosk - an online dating site and dating app, at the beginning of 2019. He introduced himself as an architect living in Sunderland and called himself James*.
Over the course of 18 months, Jessica and James exchanged a number of messages – they would talk on Skype, have long phone calls, he would send her flowers, and from Jessica’s perspective, they were falling in love.
But James was a professional scammer, believed to be a part of an organised crime group in Nigeria, and during their relationship he scammed Jessica out of her life savings, “borrowing” money she one day expected to be repaid.
Even when Jessica got suspicious and reported James’ behaviour to police, he kept the scam up, sending spoof emails that appeared to be from a Northamptonshire Police detective in a bid to keep Jessica from seeing the truth.
Detective Sergeant Steve Puddifoot, said: “The victim in this case is exceptionally brave in being willing to talk about her experiences and we all hope that it will serve as a warning to other people who use online dating services.
“This was a very professional scam created and carried out by professional criminals. Even when a police investigation was in full swing, the scammer created an email address that appeared to from Northamptonshire Police, in order to evade detection.
“Online dating services are a great way to meet people but those that use them need to be fully aware of the dangers involved.
“In this case, the victim lost more than £100,000 that she thought she would get back.
“She has lost her life savings and has been left homeless and in debt - the emotional and mental impact has been devastating to her and her family.
“She, and we, hope that raising awareness and her speaking out about her experiences could prevent others from falling foul of this despicable crime.”
Romance fraud is a serious crime. If you suspect it, you must report it. If you, or someone you know is suspected to be a victim of Romance Fraud, please report it to us.
Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile. Ask plenty of questions.
Analyse their profile – confirm the person's identity. Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly-used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.
Talk to your friends and family - be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
Evade scams - never send money or share your bank details with someone you’ve only met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them.
Stay on the dating site messenger service - don't use email, phone, social media or other messaging apps until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.
*Names have been changed