Scrabble romance scam: Oldham woman, 83, loses £20k to fraudster | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Image caption, The fraudster posed as a 60-year-old American millionaire widower

An 83-year-old woman was duped out of more than £20,000 by a romance scammer she met while playing Scrabble online, police have said.

The victim from Oldham fell for the fraudster, who posed as a 60-year-old American millionaire widower.

The scammer promised to visit the UK to give her a second chance of love after her husband died a few years earlier.

Her story has been shared by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as a warning over romance scams.

The woman sent more than £20,000 over an 18-month period before she suspected she had become a victim of fraud and told her brother, who went on to report the matter to Action Fraud following advice from GMP.

Starting in 2022, the conman built a connection with the pensioner through the word game before he suggested they move to an external chat platform and requests for money began.

Image source, Greater Manchester Police

Image caption, Greater Manchester Police released a mock-up of messages sent between the woman and the scammer

On one occasion he claimed his daughter urgently needed an operation to save her leg and that he did not have access to his bank card to pay a surgeon.

Another time, the fraudster said he needed cash to pay his bail after he was arrested in Istanbul, Turkey, on returning from a business trip, and even emailed a fake letter purporting to be from the United Nations, which stated he was a prisoner.

The woman’s brother said scammers targeted things like online Scrabble because “they know this is a place where they’ll find older women with a bit of money”.

“It makes me really angry because they’ve deliberately targeted someone who is elderly and vulnerable. But I hope that by speaking out this will help protect other victims.”

Image source, Greater Manchester Police

Image caption, The scammers duped the woman out of £20,000 over 18 months

The victim’s brother now has power of attorney and supports her bank in investigating suspicious transactions, GMP said, adding those behind the scam have yet to be uncovered.

Det Sgt Stacey Shannon, of GMP’s economic crime unit, said the story was “unfortunately far from unique”.

“I hope his experience will help other victims realise what is happening to them and encourage them to make a report.”

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