Dating fraud: The woman 'lovebombed' out of £300,000
A woman "lovebombed" out of more than £300,000 in an online dating scam has shared her story as a warning to others.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was "swept off my feet" when she was contacted by a man she believed to be in Turkey.
She lost her home, business and took out several loans over 14 months.
She said: "The pressure was horrendous, and it got to the point where all the money had gone."
Speaking to BBC Radio York, the woman, known as Nancy, said she had come out of a "bad marriage" and joined dating website Match.com "to dip my toe into the dating world".
'Affection and compliments'
In July 2015, she received her first message.
Nancy, from North Yorkshire, said: "I just connected with what seemed to be a very attractive-looking person who was really keen to talk to me.
"There's a term for it - lovebombed - where you're just bombarded with affection and compliments.
"When you're with someone who tells you how awful you are every day for ten years, then someone pays you some compliments... of course you're going to be swept away."
After chatting for six weeks online, they then began talking via another messaging service, and she was asked for money.
She was told the man and his young son had been attacked and mugged, with the boy requiring "urgent medical care".
"It was a really bizarre amount of money, it was €3,750, it wasn't a straightforward amount of money I would have normally associated with a fraud," she said.
"Reluctantly I sent the money, because I couldn't think of a child in distress and we seemed to be getting on really well."
Nancy said she was "bombarded" with messages from the moment she woke up to when she went to sleep, with further requests for money coming in.
She did not tell anyone about what she was experiencing.
Nancy said: "As soon as the money requests came through it was posed to me that I shouldn't tell anybody because it would look really bad, nobody would understand."
Action Fraud advice
- Criminals who commit romance fraud trawl through profiles and piece together information such as wealth and lifestyle, in order to manipulate their victims
- Police can investigate and help to provide support, but often cannot get the money back
- It is very simple for fraudsters to cover their tracks by masking IP addresses and using unregistered phone numbers
- Never send money to someone online you have never met
- Think twice about posting personal information which could be used to manipulate or bribe you
Nancy continued: "I came from one abusive relationship and went straight back into another one.
"The manipulation was so extreme that I was told that if I didn't send money, they would starve and die. I didn't want that on my conscience.
"You get to the point where you have lost so much money, you have to keep going in the hope that you're wrong."
After reading fraud advice online, Nancy went to police at the start of September, but by this time, more than £300,000 had gone.
No arrests have been made over the crime, also known as 'catfishing'.
Nancy added: "I've got no house and huge debts, but the pressure has now gone.
"I've restarted my business and have got a really good support network now."