Six victims lured from Romania by fake boyfriends saved in modern slavery raid
Police seized firearms as a series of raids were carried out in London and Romania. Credit: Met Police

Six victims of a slavery ring have been rescued in north London after being lured to the capital by fake boyfriends.

Investigators say human traffickers used the so-called "loverboy" tactic to win women's trust before trafficking them into London and forcing them into prostitution,

In a joint operation between the Metropolitan Police and Romanian Police, supported by Eurojust and Europol, 133 officers carried out raids in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officers simultaneously executed 12 warrants around the city of Iasi in northeastern Romania, and three around Colindale, in Barnet, north London.

As part of the warrants, large quantities of cash, and high value watches and vehicles as well as firearms were seized in Romania.

Large quantities of cash were seized in the raids. Credit: Met Police

Five people have been detained for questioning in Romania, while a 24-year-old man was arrested in London for being wanted on a UK court warrant. He was taken to a north London police station.

The six victims rescued in the capital are now being supported by specialist officers and by the charity Justice and Care.

Detective Inspector Melanie Lillywhite from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime’s Modern Slavery Unit said: “The action today and the substantial amount of work which has led up to today has significantly disrupted this organised criminal network.

"Members of this OCN are suspected of recruiting and grooming women in Romania before trafficking them to the UK where they are forced into prostitution. "Unfortunately, this type of exploitation is still happening across London and the UK. The Met’s modern slavery team works around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and forced labour, and we play a role in protecting and supporting hundreds of victims each year.”

High value watches were also recovered by police. Credit: Met Police

Detective Inspector Lillywhite added: “We need help from the public as they have an important role to play in recognising and reporting modern slavery.

"If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, report it. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available. “Often those affected do not see themselves as potential victims of sexual exploitation and many will have been coerced into this life to make money for an organised crime network.

"Victims are often told the police and authorities in the UK are not to be trusted and with limited English are unable to seek help, even if they want to. “We believe there are victims of modern slavery in every borough across London and the public may encounter them every day, possibly without realising.

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"As well as being sexually exploited, victims have been found working in construction, domestic servitude, agriculture, cannabis factories and in places you use yourself, such as car washes, barbers and nail bars.”

If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, you can call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733.

You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also report to the police online at or by calling 101, in case of an emergency dial 999.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at