Police hunt bearded romance fraudster accused of fleecing men he met on dating apps out of £50,000 | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Romance scam artist ‘Stefano Armani’ is suspected to have fleeced more than £50,000 from victims he meets on online dating websites, Hertfordshire Police claims

The man known as Stefano Armani or Stefano Khalide has been linked to a number of romance fraud crimes(Hertfordshire Police / SWNS)

Fraud detectives are hunting a bearded romance scam artist believed to have swindled £50,000 off lonely-hearted singles.

Police are trying to close in on the crook who is believed to have used sites to build fake relationships with male victims, then exploit them for money. Understood to hail from London, the suspected fraudster has so far operated under the aliases Stefano Armani and Stefano Khalide.

The victims to have come forward so far have been from the Hertfordshire area, defrauding hopeful singles of more than £50,000. Hertfordshire Police has now issued an appeal to anyone who knows Stefano’s whereabouts or who believes they or a loved one may have also been targeted to come forward.

Hertfordshire Constabulary’s LGBTQ+ Strategic Lead Superintendent Owen Pyle said: “We have specially trained LGBTQ+ liaison officers at Hertfordshire Constabulary who are able to help and support victims. Any information you have, no matter how small it may seem, could be key to our investigation.” Anyone with information should email [email protected].

The appeal comes as fraud experts revealed earlier this year that so-called romance scammers were resorting to increasingly-desperate measures to claw cash from victims. The scams work by developing a relationship with the victim – typically someone who is older or vulnerable – online, in a bid to gain their trust.

Fraudsters often lie about their appearance or lifestyle in a bid to attract interest. Common methods used involve scammers feigning emergency situations where they need fast cash from their victim. Many who fall victim to the crimes are emotionally manipulated into sending over money under the false promise they’ll be paid back.

The cruel scams have seen online crooks swindle millions from unsuspecting victims over recent years. Shelley Comb, from the Insurance Fraud Bureau said in February: “Being convicted of insurance fraud can have life-changing consequences; don’t risk it all to line someone’s pocket.”

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