Women targeted in 'romance scam' lose £105k

The PSNI are warning people looking for love online to be on alert for scammers. Credit: Pexels

Two women from Counties Antrim and Down have lost a total of £105,000 after they were targeted online in a romance scam.

A senior PSNI officer has warned people looking for love online to be on the alert for fraudsters.

Ahead of Valentine's Day, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "In both of the cases reported to us in the last fortnight, both women were tricked by fraudsters they had been befriended by two men online who duped them into sending substantial amounts of money.

"The first report, made to us on Monday 4 February, involved a woman who had been befriended by a man online claiming to be in the US Army. The pair were 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."

Chief Superintendent Walls added: "The second report, involving a woman in North Down, was reported to us on Sunday 10 February. It was reported the woman had 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 trusted the man and believed his story, and sent him payments totaling £40,000."

As both women gave their money to the fraudsters voluntarily, they will not get it back.

"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," Chief Superintendent Walls said.

Police are warning to look out for the key signs of someone who may be scamming you:

  • Someone asking a lot of questions but giving nothing about themselves away

  • Asking for money or goods such as an iPad or iPhone

  • Asking to send money to your bank account

If you have been targeted in this way, please report it to Action Fraud via their website or by phoning 0300 123 2040.

Alternatively you can call police on the non-emergency number 101.

Further advice and information can also be found on the ScamwiseNI website or Facebook page.