PSNI warn of 'romance fraud' after women scammed out of £105,000

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Two women in North Down and Antrim have lost a combined total of £105,000 after falling victim to 'romance fraud'.

In the past few weeks both victims sent money to men who they'd formed online relationships with.

In the first case, reported on the 4th of February, A County Antrim woman was befriended by a man online, who claimed to be in the US Army.

The pair kept in touch for around a month before things took a romantic turn.

From May last year, the man told the woman a number of stories, including that he was being detained by authorities in Africa, in a bid to get her to give him money.

She believed the man's stories, and was conned into sending him £65,000.

In the second report, made on Sunday 10th February, a North Down woman entered into an online relationship with a man claiming to live in the USA where he worked as an engineer.

They had been in touch since November and the man eventually asked the woman for money for projects.

She believed his story, and sent him payments totalling £40,000.

Warning of the scams of the heart ahead of Valentine's Day, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said:

"Sadly, for these two women they will not get their money back as they gave it to the fraudsters voluntarily. These reports illustrate how scammers don’t care about their victims; that they’re happy to take advantage of people’s vulnerability and good faith. Unfortunately, there is no end to the methods fraudsters will use to dupe people into giving them money.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see members of the public lose very significant amounts of money in online and telephone scams.

"Romance scammers don’t prey on a specific gender, sexuality, race or age. They target everyone, just don’t let it be you. Don’t let yourself become a statistic. Protect yourself if you want to use the internet in search of love or companionship. 

"Start off with a reputable website. Look out for someone asking lots of questions, but not giving any detail about themselves. Don’t ever hand over any money or send goods such as iPhones or iPads. Never let anyone you don’t know or trust transfer money into your bank account.

“If you want to buy that something special for someone on Valentine’s Day, make sure you shop from reputable websites and that you keep your details safe. There will be lots of enticing offers so think smart and stay scam wise.

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