Widow’s £50,000 loss in romance scam highlights rising trend

A widow, Lyn, devastated by a £50,000 online romance scam, expressed her profound loss of trust following the deceitful manipulation by a fraudster she met on a social media platform for widows and widowers in May 2021.

Initially charmed by ‘Derek,’ who purported to be a Manchester-based businessman, Lyn gradually succumbed to his elaborate ploys, ultimately surrendering her life savings. The harrowing experience underscored the pervasive threat of romance fraud, which saw a staggering 7,660 cases reported across England and Wales in 2023, marking a substantial increase from 2019.

Despite Lyn’s diligent efforts to verify ‘Derek’s’ identity, including inquiries about his purported Manchester roots and shared interests, her trust was ruthlessly betrayed. ‘Derek’ concocted tales of a lucrative mineral company and extravagant globetrotting lifestyle, exploiting Lyn’s vulnerability as a recent widow.

Prompted by fabricated crises, ‘Derek’ repeatedly solicited funds from Lyn, coercing her into a spiral of financial ruin. The devastating revelation of ‘Derek’s’ non-existence by Cheshire Police shattered Lyn’s world, leaving her grappling with the harsh reality of financial devastation in her retirement years. Head of Fraud Chris Ainsley said:

“The romance scams often are the ones that take the longest for us to break the spell on. They’re the ones that potentially have the most emotional damage to a customer. If you’re buying a pair of trainers that don’t turn up after a few weeks you know what’s happened.

If you think you’re in a relationship with someone who’s asking for money – maybe over a year or longer – to the point where you’ve taken out loans to pay for that, then that’s the most difficult for us to deal with.”

Amidst ongoing efforts to apprehend ‘Derek’ and combat the escalating prevalence of romance scams, Lyn’s cautionary tale serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilance and seeking support from loved ones in times of uncertainty.

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