Woman, 75, devastated after sending £23,000 to scammer – ‘My hopes and dreams gone’ | Personal Finance | Finance | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

Ms Edwards was contacted on Facebook by someone posing as a military officer who needed money due to complications getting home. After she realised this was a scam, she claims she was targeted again by recovery scammers who claimed to know the fraudster who took her £23,000 out of pocket.

On an episode of For Love or Money on BBC, Ms Edwards shared her devastating story of how she was scammed out of thousands. 

Ms Edwards runs her own flight school and was contacted in 2015 through the schools’ Facebook account by a man claiming to be US military officer Bruce Graham Wallace.

Mr Wallace, who claimed he was from Kentucky, and Ms Edwards quickly acquainted themselves over the social media platform. 

Ms Edwards had recently lost her mum and a relationship, saying: “I need something in my life now, to make it more exciting. That’s how I got talking to him.”

Mr Wallace said that although he was a colonel in Afghanistan, he was thinking of buying himself out of the army early, but had a slight issue with his plan.

Ms Edwards claims: “He said ‘I’ve got a problem with my card in America’, could I fund him £1,000 to buy himself out.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s more than painful’ Widow in tears after losing over £150,000 and her home in scam

The money she paid was supposed to be enough to cover Mr Wallace’s credit card debt, fly back to the states and buy some civilian clothes.

The plan was that he would go back to America, activate his bank card and fly to the UK to meet June.

She also claims he had mentioned that while in Afghanistan, in a Taliban place, the soldiers had found some gold and had split it between themselves.

This would be the downfall of the plan Ms Edwards had paid for. 

After three days of radio silence, Ms Edwards was called and told Mr Wallace had been detained at JFK international airport for trying to smuggle gold without a certificate. 

To rectify this, he would need to buy a certificate which cost £3,000, a price Ms Edwards then paid. 


She spoke to Mr Wallace while he was supposedly detained and said: “He said do you want me to come and see you or not. Do you want to just leave me here to rot. And he started crying.”

After paying the £3,000, she was told Mr Wallace would be released within 24 hours, but now he needed an additional £3,000 to cover the costs of a solicitor and his airfare to the UK, which she obliged. 

Ms Edwards then didn’t hear from Bruce again for almost five weeks, after now paying a total of £8,000 and decided to do some research. 

She said: “I was going through the Facebook page and he had put a new photo. I spotted the name on the jacket, it don’t say Wallace, it was Lopez.” 

Mr Wallace told her the photo had been taken shortly after an attack and he had mistakenly grabbed his friend’s jacket, whilst also adding that she now needed to pay an export fine which was preventing him from travelling.

Now growing suspicious, Ms Edwards was confronted by an aggressive Mr Wallace: “He said ‘You’re doubting my word now. You’re changing your mind. You’re just going to leave me here dumped in the JFK and not being able to get out.’ and he wanted another £3,000. I sent it.””

Doing some more research, Ms Edwards claims she managed to start unspiralling the web of lies she had found herself in:  “I accidentally came across a soldier, the one who I thought was Bruce Graham Wallace, and he was called Eric Lopez. Telling a story about how his image had been used for scamming. By then I’d sent £23,000. 

“And that was it. It was just all gone. Money gone and my hopes and dreams gone.”

With the scam a now recent scar on both her emotional and financial state, Ms Edwards was then contacted by a man who called himself Oscar, but did not want to reveal his real name. 

Oscar told her that he had previously worked for the scammer who was posing as Bruce Graham Wallace, but was actually a man called Eddie based in Ghana. 

Ms Edwards claims: “He said ‘Can I email you and send you his address? But can you send me £50?’ He said he could give me his phone number and photos of cars he had bought with other people’s money.”

Aggravated by seeing the fancy cars the fraudster had bought himself, she challenged him on Facebook, to which he replied: “You come over here looking for trouble and I’ll give you trouble. I’ll send you back to the UK in a wooden box.”

Ms Edwards ended up paying Oscar £300 for information on Eddie but was cautioned that this could be a recovery scam. 

Private investigator and scam expert Laura Lyons said on the program: “Victims who have fallen into romance fraud online, it’s quite normal that their details are sold onto other fraudsters and scammers. They end up getting contacted by companies or individuals claiming that they can recover their money or they know the person that scammed them and they end up getting entwined into another scam which is called a recovery scam.”

The victims of scams are then revictimised by recovery scammers, who usually provide them with false information. 

Ms Lyons advised Ms Edwards: “Going forward, it would be a really good idea to change your phone number, change your email address. If people do buy your details online revictimise you, actually those details are invalid. Just by making these small little steps of changes will actually mean that the people buying those details are wasting their money.”

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