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‘I was head over heels in love’ says victim of romance con artist who drained her bank account of £120,000 | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


A WOMAN who was conned by a twisted romance scam that saw her drained of an eye-watering £120,000 vowed she was “head-over-heels” in love.

Linda Young was targeted by a scumbag fraudster, who took advantage of her loneliness, when she got divorced after 24 years of marriage.

In just six months, Linda’s accounts were drained (stock image)Credit: Getty

The empty-nester, living in an isolated town, turned to popular over 50s online dating apps to find a companion.

Before long, the special education school administrator had fallen “head-over-heels” for a man she met through one of these platforms.

It took me a long time to work through the shame

Lisa Young

However, in an equally short amount of time, Linda had sent him a whopping £120,000.

The sicko had drained her accounts in just six months, under the guise he was “investing” in their future together.

Linda told the BBC: “He would be so loving and caring.

“I just couldn’t stop the adrenaline rush. It was addictive. Every time my phone buzzed or a text came through from him, my whole world just lit up.”

Despite a gut feeling niggling at Linda to stop sending her new partner cash, he would gaslight her into complying with his demands.

“But we’re just investing in our future. All of this will come back to us,” he would say in his web of lies.

Linda said she was completely “under his spell” and called her naivety “temporary insanity”.

“It took me a long time to work through the shame,” she added.

Lisa Mills, a romance fraud expert at Victim Support charity explained how gaslighting is “particularly insidious” and how it can affect people.

She said: “This anguish takes a huge toll on their mental and physical health.”

Victims will often hear lines such as “if you truly loved me, you would not question why I need this amount of money so quickly,” or “you said before that you wanted to help me, what’s changed?”

It comes as Lloyds Bank revealed the number of customers fleeced by love scams rose by 22 per cent last year.

Men made up 52 per cent of cases, and lost an average of £5,145 compared to £9,083 for females.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau received more than 8,000 reports of romance scams in 2022 but the real number is likely far higher – with many embarrassed to come forward.

How to spot signs

SOMEONE you have just met either online or in person declares their love for you too quickly.

  •  Many online tricksters claim to work in the military or medical profession, and need to travel, which gives them excuses why they cannot video-chat or meet in person.
  • They often ask for money to help them through time-critical emergencies.
  • Most will pull at the heartstrings with stories of death or debt.
  • Their pictures are too perfect to believe. Try a Google image search to check whether their photo has been taken from elsewhere.
  • They will tell you to be sure to keep your relationship private.

HOW TO GET HELP

  • YOU can report romance scams to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk.
  • Anna Rowe is co-founder of a site offering advice and support for victims, at lovesaid.org.
  • You can see profile pictures used by fraudsters at ScamHaters United, on Facebook and Instagram.

Mum-of-four Julie-Anne Kearns experienced a similar scam to Linda.

After she shared her breast cancer journey on social media, a disgusting conman took advantage.

Julie-Anne, 46, a healthcare assistant from Poole, Dorset, met a man called Andrew on Facebook.

He claimed to work in the military for a Peace Corps mission in Afghanistan — an operation ceased in 1979.

Julie-Anne said she experienced “love-bombing” at the start of his “manipulation game”.

This was followed by a “sob story” about his wife being killed and a daughter shipped away to boarding school.

But Julie-Anne grew suspicious when Andrew started asking her to send him iTunes gift cards.

When she put his image into a Google search, it popped up on lots of profiles — and she blocked him.

Julie-Anne, who now runs a TikTok page giving advice to other women, added: “If I hadn’t confronted him, he would have carried on and asked for more money.”

How to stay safe from romance scams

  • Don’t agree to any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
  • Chat through any decisions with your family or friends to get advice before sending any money.
  • Research online profiles -a reverse image search on a search engine can help tell you whether the photos are genuine or if someone is posing as another person.



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