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Romance fraudster defrauded women of £80,000 | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

  • By Deena Campbell, Lauren Ferguson and Lucy Fesmer
  • BBC Radio 5 Live

Image caption, Peter Gray applied for loans using personal information that he stole from the women

A group of women are warning others to do background checks on partners met through dating apps after loans worth thousands of pounds were taken out in their names by the same conman.

Peter Gray, 35, who met the women on Tinder, was jailed after defrauding four women out of about £80,000.

One victim said Gray, from West Yorkshire, “totally ruined my life” and left her with significant trust issues.

Tinder said it had “implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams”.

Gray, of Mirfield, was sentenced to 56 months in prison in February and given restraining orders in relation to the victims.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Clare McDonnell, Jessica – not her real name – described how she met Gray on the app in 2018 after coming out of a six-year relationship.

Although he wasn’t her usual type, he was “a good listener and everything I needed at the time”, she recalled.

On their third date, Jessica was at his apartment and got up to use the bathroom.

“I left my bag on his dining table, he went in my bag and took pictures of my driving licence and both my bank cards,” she said.

She later discovered loans up to the value of £9,000 were taken out in her name.

Image caption, Gray developed close connections that would help him commit offences for his own personal financial gain

Despite Gray offering to pay back the money over time, Jessica went to the police.

“I didn’t want to be tied to this guy for five years because I barely even knew him,” she said.

Hannah, another woman who met Gray on Tinder, described him as being initially “calming and reassuring,” but something “didn’t sit right”.

A week later, after Hannah decided to call the relationship off, she received an acceptance letter for a loan of £20,000 in her name.

The pair rekindled their relationship a few months later after Gray showered her with gifts and declarations of love, however she later ended it once again.

“I think the alarm bells and red flags were just waving high,” she said.

Romance scam tips

  • Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person
  • Speak to family or friends and don’t feel embarrassed to discuss it
  • Profile images may not be genuine, so carry out a reverse image search via a search engine to see if photos are taken from someone else
  • Monitor your credit report, particularly if you’ve been the victim of identity theft
  • Scams can be reported to the Financial Conduct Authority and Citizens Advice
  • Further support can be found via BBC Action Line

Sources: Action Fraud/Victim Support/Stop Scams UK

Across all of the relationships, Gray developed close connections that would help him commit offences for his own personal financial gain.

When Hannah found out she was pregnant, her sister looked into Gray’s past and tracked down one of his ex-partners, who warned her of his hidden past.

“There’s no way that I’m going to let a child be brought up anywhere near such a vile human,” Hannah said.

“My world had just literally broken apart in front of my eyes in that half an hour conversation.”

Video caption, Victim Hannah and sister Natalie, told BBC 5 Live of their reaction to the experience

Gray repeated the pattern once again when he matched with Elizabeth – not her real name – in 2020.

He sent flowers to her home, despite Elizabeth never revealing where she lived.

Elizabeth said: “Red flags popped up, but I just kept thinking, stop being silly, you need to be going for a guy that treats you nice.”

Two days before moving into her new house, Elizabeth’s mortgage was pulled after Gray used her driving licence to secure a loan of about £10,000 in her name.

Jessica said Gray’s actions had “totally ruined my life” and said she’s stopped taking ID and bank cards out on dates.

“I don’t trust anybody I meet,” she said.

Elizabeth said: “You’re constantly thinking, is this person who they say they are or are they not?”

Two of the women individually used the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, which gives people the right to ask police for a background check on their partner.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, In a statement, Tinder says it has “implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams”

In a statement, Tinder said it “acts to help prevent and warn users of potential scams or fraud by using AI tools to detect words and phrases and proactively intervene”.

“We have implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams or fraud, from in-app features to pop-up messages and education,” a spokesperson said.

“All users can request that their match be photo-verified prior to messaging. We also partner with non-governmental organizations and local authorities to promote awareness of online fraud.”

You can hear the full interviews on BBC Radio 5 Live on Bank Holiday Monday, or listen to the 5MinsOn podcast ‘The Women Conned By A Romance Fraudster’ on BBC Sounds.

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