A HEARTLESS conman who claimed he was worth almost $6 million fleeced a Melbourne woman of more than $260,000 after meeting her online and pretending to be a suave British engineer.
Jan Marshall, 61, thought she had met the man of her dreams when she found “Eamon Donegal Dubhlainn” on the dating website Plenty of Fish.
After a whirlwind online romance Jan accepted Eamon’s marriage proposal.
But the Lalor woman was left heartbroken and facing financial ruin after wiring money to Eamon, then never hearing from him again.
After reporting it to police Jan was told she had fallen victim to an online conman, who was most likely from Nigeria.
Now, Jan has set up a support group and is warning other women not to fall victim to similar scams.
She has backed the new Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network, which has received 10,000 reports since going live last November.
“When I met Eamon online he said he was a British engineer working in the US,” Jan said.
“Then he said he was flying to Dubai for a contract.”
Over a 72-day period Jan fell in love with Eamon through intimate daily chats online. He sent her pictures of a handsome man in his 50s, saying they were of him. (The Sunday Herald Sun doesn’t believe the photos are of Eamon.)
Eamon said he was 52, divorced with a 15-year-old daughter and his marriage had broken down when he found his wife in bed with someone else.
“He said all sorts of things to gain my trust,” Jan said.
Eamon then asked Jan for money. He said he had miscalculated the materials he needed for his engineering job in Dubai and was having trouble accessing his English bank account.
He emailed Jan a screen shot of his bank account showing a balance of more than $5.4 million and sent her a Google maps link to a picturesque English house in Cheshire, home to a host of multi-millionaire EPL soccer players.
“I was sucked in and sent him the money over several Western Union wires and online banking transactions,” Jan said.
“He kept coming up with reasons why he needed the money. He was robbed, having tax problems, had a car accident, he needed to pay medical expenses. The last I heard from him was when he said he was flying back to England.
“It’s initially very embarrassing. You feel ashamed, you feel grief for that relationship which you thought you had. I was depressed for a while. By talking about it with others it helps me reclaim my self-respect.”
After realising she had been scammed, Jan found pictures of “Eamon” on multiple online dating sites under different names.
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan hopes the ACORN system will make it harder for conmen to scam innocent Australians.
“ACORN has received on average more than 75 reports a day,” he said.