A heartbroken widower has been left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket after falling victim to an elaborate dating scam.
The Baby Boomer, who was left alone following the death of his beloved wife of 35 years, was tricked into handing over around $377,000 over the course of one year.
Left feeling lonely after his wife’s passing, the man reportedly turned to the dating site in hopes of finding a new partner but it all went downhill from there. Instead of forming a relationship, he was left in a financial mess after paying thousands of dollars for what he thought were membership fees, an engagement ring, marriage costs and legal costs for his supposed future wife.
Speaking out almost two years since the terrible ordeal, the man admitted his finances are in a horrible state with no life savings to fall back on. He described the scammers as “animals” and said he is struggling with only a pension to support him.
“It was stupid but I was very vulnerable,” he reportedly told the Sunshine Coast Daily. “I was lonely at the time and was feeling very low. I thought there was a connection.”
Sadly, online dating scams are all to common. In fact, according to cyber support service ID care, relationship scams cost Australians and New Zealanders, on average, $83,977 per event, and it often takes victims 10.4 months to detect the scam.
Earlier this year Queensland Police issued an urgent warning to the public after discovering what they described as “a disturbing development in romance and online scams”.
In January a man posing as an American solider was charged with fraud after allegedly scamming a Brisbane woman out of $305,000 in an online romance scam.
Police said the 34-year-old woman began an online romantic relationship with the man after befriending him on social media in October 2018. Over the next few months, the victim was groomed into believing the stories provided by the man and sent him more than $200,000 through a money transfer service.
The 32-year-old man, also from Brisbane, then travelled to the woman’s house to collect a further $105,000. Following the meeting, the victim became suspicious and after confiding in a close friend, she reported the matter to police.
Detectives from the Queensland Police Service’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group arrested the offender while he was attempting to induce the victim to hand over more money.