Mother tricked out of £7,000 in internet dating scam
A mother from Stevenage in Hertfordshire has been tricked out of about £7,000 by a conman she met through an internet dating website.
The 41-year-old victim, who has not been named, met a man who called himself William on a website in March.
William created a profile including a photograph and persuaded her to hand over her savings, her children's savings and get herself into debt.
She contacted the police after her family raised concerns about it.
The woman said: "I joined the dating website as I was keen to meet someone and begin a new relationship.
"William seemed perfect for me and we chatted regularly online and on the phone.
"He included a photograph on his profile and told me that he was Italian, had lived in the UK for most of his life and that he had a seven-year-old daughter, Vera."
He led her to believe that they would start a new life together and that she would become a new mother to Vera.
He told her he would be taking a three-month trip to Nigeria for work, taking Vera with him.
During his trip, William contacted her claiming his daughter had contracted malaria and urgently needed money to pay for medical treatment.
Being concerned for the girl's welfare, she sent £2,000 without hesitation.
William claimed he was keen for Vera to return to the UK to live with the woman while he was working in Nigeria and she sent a further £1,000 to pay for flights.
He then told her Vera had been kidnapped and conned her out of another £4,000 in "ransom".
When she contacted her brother for help in obtaining the extra money, he suggested she report the matter to police.
She said: "When the police arrived, they made initial investigations and confirmed that I was the victim of a conman.
"I had read about people being scammed over the internet, but I never thought it would happen to me as William and his daughter were so convincing."
Pc Andy Batey, the officer dealing with the case, warned people to "be immediately suspicious if the person you have recently met begins to ask you for money".
"Never hand over money to anyone unless you have met them face to face several times and are confident of their identity," he added.