Bournemouth woman loses £14,000 in dating scam

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Image caption,
A government tax bill the victim received was one part of the elaborate dating scam

A woman from Bournemouth conned out of £14,000 in a dating scam has had her case closed by police.

The 56-year-old will lose the money she handed over to the man who claimed he was a Syria-based UN medic, as police could not track him down.

The victim said she knew there was "little chance" of getting her money.

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: "Cybercrime is the emerging threat and that's why we are putting more resources into tackling it."

Syrian sheikh gold

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, met the man on an online dating site and developed a "close friendship".

In March he told her he was sending a package for her to keep which he had been given by a Syrian sheikh.

According to fake customs papers, the package supposedly contained 34 gold bars, which he was sending with his personal possessions.

She was sent a video of the gold bars supposedly being unpacked at Heathrow by customs officials.

She paid a £1,770 handling charge that was fake and also a £7,400 government tax bill that was also fake, to release the package.

She then agreed to pay £4,000 for a flight from Syria for him to get home.

The money had in fact gone to a company based in the West Midlands.

Her son spotted the same video of the gold being unpacked on YouTube and realised his mother had been duped.

'Horrible experience'

She said: "It was a horrible experience and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I want to report my experience in order to help raise awareness so other people don't fall victim to the same crime."

Her case was referred to Action Fraud, which passed it on to West Midlands police.

A spokesman for the force said: "Significant enquiries were conducted into the alleged fraud, which determined that the suspect had used a legitimate, unsuspecting overseas business in order to fraudulently receive and spend the victim's money.

"The suspect has not been identified and, with enquiries exhausted to date, the case has been filed pending any new information coming to light."

Speaking of her experience, the woman said: "It has put me off using the internet as you don't know who you are talking to.

"When you're a vulnerable woman, people can tell you anything and get you around their little finger."

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