Pat claims to have lost over £30,000 in an online romance scam, which caused her to worry about being evicted. On the BBC programme For Love or Money on Thursday, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste tried show Pat the truth behind this scam in an effort to help her draw a line under this horrific chapter in her life.
In the search for love, Pat decided to sign up to an online dating site. It was there that she met a man who claimed to be called ‘Mark Anderson’.
Mark, who said he was 54, from Basingstoke, claimed to be an operations manager at Amazon, with a 17 year old son.
Two months into their relationship, Mark claimed he had a job offer in India and Pat told him to take it.
He told her that the jewellery was really cheap in India, and that he had bought her a ring for when he got back to the UK. However on the day he was supposed to fly home, he said he had ran into some difficulties in Dubai.
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He claimed he had been stopped by customs for transporting jewellery without the correct documentation and asked Pat to lend him £3,400 via his boss’s account to pay his fine, which she did.
But it didn’t end there. Pat claims she sent over another £10,000 to cover further customs and VAT charges on the jewellery.
Pat explained that she sent the money because she had no reason to doubt him at this point. He said he would pay her back and that he had the money in the bank.
She claims: “I got an email from these so-called solicitors saying Mark had hit one of the guards. He was being held in a detention centre and had to go to court.
“They said they would release him on bail for another £20,000.
“By now my money is running out and fast. I managed to rake up all my credit cards and maxed them all out. I said to him, ‘This is the last I can do.’
“I thought, ‘Ok, I might as well jump in with both feet.’
“I sent him the £20,000.”
In total, Pat claims she sent Mark over £30,000. It was his latest request for hospital fees that caused Pat to worry and refuse to send any more money to Mark.
Pat started to believe this was a scam because Mark asked her to take out another loan.
She explained to him that if she were to take another loan out, she could lose her home and be evicted, however Mark told her not to worry about that.
“That’s when the big red flag came up,” she said.
She added: “I still love him but if this is all a scam, I’m loving a ghost ain’t I?”
After investigating Pat’s case, Ashley found that Mark was not real – she had been scammed.
Ashley could not find anyone with his details in Basingstoke working as an operations manager at Amazon. All the emails and documents about Mark’s court case were found to be duplicates online that anyone could have printed off and the receipt from the customs charge for the jewellery that Pat received seemed to be fabricated.
Devastated by the news, Pat said: “All a big scam all along.
“I just don’t know how he can do this to me – just lie, lie, lie. Why couldn’t he just take the money and run, why do they have to keep going for all this time afterwards?
“Don’t these people have a conscience? I’m just gobsmacked. I just feel so gutted and stupid.”
During the episode, Pat was able to speak on video call to the innocent man whose pictures had been stolen by the scammer, who used them to pose as “Mark”.
For Love or Money continues tomorrow on BBC One at 10am.