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Police offer ‘romance fraud’ advice

Andover Online Dating
Andover Online Dating

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Police have shared information from a Hampshire woman who has suffered ‘romance fraud’.

The woman who wishes to remain anonymous is a victim of online dating fraud and has agreed to share her experiences to help others avoid being affected by this type of crime.

She is speaking out after losing £20,000 and laundered more than £200,000 after three years of contact with a man she met and communicated with solely online.

Police are hoping that her story may be a lesson to people who use online dating portals from getting into similar situations where they may become vulnerable to convincing detailed deceptions.

Hampshire Constabulary has recorded an interview with the woman to give a candid and emotive account of the fraud and its implications for her life.

The interview forms part of a Hampshire Constabulary film reconstructing the events of an elaborate manipulation based on a false promise of marriage and a new life together.

Speaking during the film, the woman who is known as Jenny to protect her identity, said: “What I really want to get across to anybody or everybody is the minute anyone asks you to send them money, if you’ve never met them or received money from them, just don’t do it – don’t do it, contact the police or talk to somebody else about it.

“I never thought that I was naïve; I didn’t think anything like this could ever happen to me – it could happen to anybody.”

‘Jenny’ received a suspended prison sentence for offences of money laundering. The man she met online has not been identified or arrested.

Hampshire Constabulary crime prevention advisor Sarah Cohen said:

“We’re proud of ‘Jenny’ for her courage and decision in wanting to protect others by talking about these distressing events and their effects on life. The consequences of romance and online dating fraud can be emotionally destructive because offenders prey upon a victim’s deepest desires and longing for love.

Hampshire Constabulary has introduced Operation Signature over the past year to help protect vulnerable victims of fraud.

Victims or anyone who knows a victim of romance fraud can phone Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Signature.

Reports can also be made to Action Fraud by phoning 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.