A woman from Bristol who was almost tricked out of thousands of pounds from an online dating scam is warning others of her experiences.
After years of being single, Regina Britto joined an online dating website to find a partner.
She started started speaking with a man called Fred, but it wasn’t long before she became suspicious of his intentions.
She said: “There were moments where I started to wonder what’s going on here?
“For example, why aren’t we using WhatsApp video? But then he had a reason why so I though, ‘okay’.
“He was making declarations of love and I thought – this is a bit weird, why is he making declarations when we’ve not even met?”
Regina says Fred then asked her to leave the dating site and to communicate via WhatsApp, which is a tactic commonly used by fraudsters.
She says he then started to ask for her money.
“Suddenly he’s in Denmark now and his mother’s dying with five percent chance of survival and he needs a transaction”, she said.
“He then asked me to do a transaction from his account and asked if I would lend him three and a half thousand which I said no to.”
Detective Inspector Dan Parkinson says people should be aware of ‘romance fraud’, which is a crime that has dramatically risen during the pandemic.
“Another trend we’re seeing and we’re asking victims to be wary of is being asked to transfer money on behalf of other people”, he said.
“So that’s where we would see an offender using a victim as a money mule.”
In the South West last year, there there were 827 reports of dating scams with Action Fraud, with an estimated loss of 8.6 million pounds, according to figures from the City of London Police.
ITV West Country made several attempts to contact Fred but has not been able to reach him.
While Regina did not end up giving Fred any of her money, she still feels hurt by her experience.
She said: “I was swept up in the idea that I’d met someone and you know after all these years maybe there was a chance that I’d found my partner.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through that and if this person is using this website and using those accounts as a way to get money and you know he was very clever.”