Looking for love online? Don’t be fooled, warn police

KEEP ALERT: Police have warned people to take care when looking for love online.
KEEP ALERT: Police have warned people to take care when looking for love online.

THE experiences of a Thornlands woman who fell victim to a romance scam have been shared by police.

Bayside district crime prevention co-ordinator Acting Sergeant Brendon Winslow said the woman wanted to warn others to be careful when looking for love online.

“For this story, we will call the victim Anna,” he said.

“This is not her real name, she’s a local Thornlands girl and is happy for me to share her story.”

Acting Sergeant Winslow said he was contacted by the victim’s family last year when she began making plans to visit her love interest in Nigeria.

This was after she had sent gift cards and cash via electronic transfers into a Western Union Bank account.

Acting Sergeant Winlsow said the victim had trusted her online love interest.

The overseas hack had made out he was from the United States before confessing he was from Nigeria.

The woman had believed he was legitimate, despite red flags like his webcam never working.

Acting Sergeant Winslow said con artists were skilled at fooling people.

“I have personally met Anna and I can assure you she is an intelligent woman, which proves the fact that this can happen to anyone,” he said.

“They have the time to get to know you as a person.

“Starting slow with patience, they will nurture a relationship between you, they tap into your personal details, learn what you care about and use your goodwill as a weapon against you.”

Acting Sergeant Winslow said the woman was eventually convinced that her online relationship, which lasted for several years, was a scam.

“(She) did not fly to Nigeria and has stopped all financial assistance,” he said.

“(She) is now using the money the trip would have cost to take her family on a cruise.”

Acting Sergeant Winslow reminded people to trust their instincts when dealing with others.

“If it does not feel right, it is not alright, trust your instincts,” he said.

For more information about scams, visit Scamwatch or the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.