‘I thought I was in love, but it cost me £120,000’ | #lovescams | #datingapps

The scammer operated on a dating site designed for those aged over 50 called OurTime, which is owned by Match Group, the same company that owns dating sites Match.com and Affinity.

He claimed he was working in North Korea and was unable to return home due to restrictions on international travel and issues with his bank accounts, she said. He weaved an elaborate web of lies, sharing stories and pictures of a supposed son to his victim, as well as snapshots of receipts and booking for flights and hotels he had purportedly stayed in while trying to return to the UK. 

Communication was cut off just as he was about to board the final flight of his lengthy journey to Glasgow. “He confirmed his flight times with me and even showed me photographs of his plane tickets saying how excited he was to come over, but he never arrived,” she said.

“I was really worried something must have happened to him so I went to the police to report him missing. I was there for hours waiting but, eventually, from the name and description I gave, they bought up a picture on the computer of the same person, but with a different name. 

“It was only then that I realised he wasn’t the person I thought he was and I was devastated. The police confirmed he was well known and had done this to a lot of other people in the past. He wasn’t away from home either – he lives in Germany and had been there the entire time.”

She managed to get back half of the money she lost via her bank Halifax, which conceded it could have done more to stop the fraud in the initial stages it was unfolding. It did nothing when its customer sent 38 out-of-character payments to a bank account registered in Italy. 

She has consolidated her remaining debts and taken out a repayment plan. 

Chloe Roche, a fraud expert at CEL Solicitors said banks had a commitment to help protect victims. “But we are starting to see worrying examples of banks trying to find ways out of honouring these pledges. More needs to be done to ensure they are following through with the promises they have made to their customers,” she added. 

The Payments Systems Regulator announced this week plans to make reimbursement for fraud victims mandatory, with the Government backing its proposal and pledging to pave the way for reform with new legislation “at the earliest opportunity”. 

The dating site OurTime said it always told customers to never give money to others they come across on the site they have yet to meet in person. 

A spokesman said: “Whilst we take all the measures we can to minimise risk. Scammers can, unfortunately, be found on any dating site, so we also encourage our members to be careful and use common sense and their own best judgement when meeting someone online.”

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