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‘I’m not going to let romance fraudster beat me’ | #daitngscams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


Image source, Social Media

Image caption,

Emmanual Scotts took £11,400 from Vicky and a total £324,000 from four victims

Vicky was looking for love when she first braved the world of online dating. The 57-year-old businesswoman from Essex instead found someone who duped her out of thousands of pounds.

She met Emmanuel Scotts, 55, only a few times during the pandemic, but they spoke to each other every other day during a relationship that lasted about a year.

Scotts persuaded her to part with £11,400 for apparent investments and conned three other women too, taking £324,000 in total. He was given a 12-year prison sentence after being found guilty of fraud by false representation.

Vicky, not her real name, says she is trying to rescue some confidence via an Essex Police dedicated support group for romance fraud victims. Here, in her own words, she recalls what happened.

Image caption,

Vicky, not her real name due to her identity being protected, shared her story with BBC Look East journalist Debbie Tubby

When I went online, I thought “I’m going to do this differently” because previously I gave a lot of information away. I’d used loads of photographs, but I thought “no, I’m not going to show my photograph and I’m only going to look at people that I find attractive”.

I’d come across this profile and I thought “ooh, he looks cheeky”, he’s nicely presented, had nice teeth as well and that’s something else I was quite particular about.

I was looking for love. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with somebody. I didn’t want to be on my own. I wanted to go on holiday with someone; go out for dinner. I wanted to do all those things that I hadn’t done with somebody for such a long time.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Action Fraud has received 7,938 reports of romance fraud since January 2022, with about 200 of those reports first made to Essex Police

When the messages started there was a lot of banter. It seemed to flow. He clearly was an intelligent man and he kept me on my toes and I enjoyed that.

It was very intense – it was very, very quick, but when you’ve been on your own for a long time and you don’t have that contact with somebody, someone making you feel special like that – it was a breath of fresh air.

Video caption,

Tips on how to recognise and avoid romance fraud

He came to my flat the first time we met. He was immaculately dressed and walked with so much confidence. You look at a man like that and that is an immediate attraction.

We were just like kids, we were giggling. It was really nice.

I went to make him a drink and he came up behind me, put his arms around me and then kissed me on my neck and said “I’m going to take care of you”. That made me feel so special.

He kept phoning me and he made me feel like this was going to be something really special, that now we were going to go into a relationship.

Image caption,

Vicky was struck by Scotts’s appearance and said there was “a lot of banter”

I was supposed to be helping him out with an investment he was going to make and he promised that he would pay me the full amount back by a certain date and that date came and went and it carried on and carried on.

I remember saying to him “I’m desperate for that money because I haven’t got any funds, I can’t even buy my son a Christmas present, can you help me? Please!”. I used to beg him, but he didn’t care. There was no empathy there.

I felt ashamed. I felt so stupid. “How could I have made it so easy for him? To actually take from me?”. I look back now and realise I gave him so much information about myself. I realise he was actually grooming me to set me up and take money from me very quickly.

You don’t realise he is making mental notes of how he is going to extort money from you and that’s the thing that I find really difficult, that it was all a lie. How can someone be so convincing?

Image source, City of London Police

Image caption,

Emmanual Scotts, from Fulham, was given a 12-year prison sentence at Kingston Crown Court in November

I have no feelings for him. I don’t have any love for him. I absolutely despise the man, and the solace I get is the fact he is in prison and he will be there for long enough. The 12-year sentence was mind blowing. I didn’t expect it to be as long as that.

Now I look at him, I do not see an attractive man. I see all his flaws. Everything about him is fake.

Image source, John Fairhall/BBC

Image caption,

Sara McParland, a senior caseworker at charity Victim Support, says the impact of romance fraud is similar to the effect domestic abuse can have

I’ve become a bit more reclusive. It would take a lot for someone to earn my trust now. If someone were to “love bomb” me, I will be running a mile.

I’ve resigned myself to growing old on my own because it is going to be safer that way.

Speaking to Sara McParland from Victim Support made me feel like I was actually worth something.

The support they’ve given me has been really, really wonderful.

There are times when I’m struggling to pay the bills. I can’t put food on the table and I’m asking my daughters to help me out. I feel ashamed that I’ve put myself in that position because I trusted somebody, but then the fighter in me says “no, you’re going to get through this, you’re going to make this work”.

I’ve set up a business again and I’m not going to let him beat me. It will take me years, but I will get there.

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