83-Year-Old Woman Loses £20,000 in Online Romance Scam Playing Scrabble

In a distressing incident, an 83-year-old woman from Oldham, Greater Manchester, found herself conned out of over £20,000 by a romance scammer she encountered while playing Scrabble online.

The scammer, posing as a 60-year-old American millionaire widower, manipulated the pensioner into believing in a second chance at love after the death of her husband.

Buildup of the Scam: Innocent Game of Scrabble Leads to Exploitation

The fraudulent suitor initially established a connection with the pensioner through the innocuous game of Scrabble.

As the relationship progressed, the scammer suggested moving their conversations to another platform, where the requests for money began.

Elaborate Stories and Financial Exploitation: Scammer’s Tactics Revealed

The scammer employed various deceptive tactics, including fabricating urgent situations such as a daughter needing a life-saving operation or claiming bail was required after a supposed arrest in Istanbul.

To add a veneer of legitimacy, the scammer even sent a fake letter purportedly from the United Nations, falsely stating he was a prisoner. Over an 18-month period, the victim sent more than £20,000 before growing suspicious.

Family Discovers the Deception: Action Taken Against the Scammer

Upon suspecting foul play, the pensioner confided in her brother, who promptly reported the matter to Action Fraud following advice from Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

The brother, now holding power of attorney, is actively supporting the bank’s investigation into suspicious transactions linked to the scam.

Online Scrabble as a Hunting Ground: Scammers Target Vulnerable Individuals

The victim’s brother highlighted the cunning tactics of scammers, particularly targeting platforms like online Scrabble, where older individuals with disposable income may be found.

He emphasized the common pattern where scammers build relationships, claim limited access to bank cards, and seek financial assistance, exploiting the vulnerability of unsuspecting victims.

Law Enforcement’s Perspective: Police Encourage Vigilance in Online Interactions

Detective Sergeant Stacey Shannon, part of GMP’s economic crime unit, acknowledged the prevalence of such scams and urged vigilance.

She shared that the victim’s brother’s experience, unfortunately, mirrors those of many others, emphasizing the importance of reporting such incidents.

Detective Shannon cautioned online users, stating that if an online connection sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Emergence of New Threat: Romance Scammers Targeting Insurance Frauds

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) warns of a new trend where romance fraudsters pressure victims into making fake insurance claims.

This scheme involves victims taking out fraudulent insurance policies and subsequently being coerced into filing fake claims, resulting in financial losses and potential legal consequences for the victims.

Rising Trend in Romance Frauds: Over £700,000 Scammed in Northern Ireland

In a concerning trend, the Police Service of Northern Ireland reported 73 cases of romance fraud, with losses totaling £713,133 between April and February.

Fraudsters targeted individuals seeking love, with the largest single loss reported at £130,000. Authorities urge caution and awareness to prevent further financial exploitation in the name of romance.**

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