Heartbroken Mom Gets Swindled for $127K by Seductive Soldier Scammer
A divorced mother of three from Leicestershire, U.K. met a dashing and "All-American" soldier on the dating site Friends Reunited. The two had a long-distance "relationship" for nearly eight months, starting from October 2009 into July of last year. During the time, 47-year-old Kate Roberts had forked over roughly £80,000 (or around $127,000) to her beau -- who was, as it happens in these tragic tales, a scammer. When her Prince Charming, who called himself Sgt. Ray Smith, stopped calling and texting, Roberts drove to the base that he said he was stationed at for three years, but no one had any record of the soldier. She then called the police, and her phone company traced Smith's calls to Nigeria. Not only was Roberts heartbroken, but she also had to sell her house to make up for the debt she had gotten herself into while bailing her paramour out.
What is shocking is not so much that someone can be swindled while looking for love -- in fact, it is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and a practice that is far older than the Internet -- but the depth and complexity of this particular scheme. The scammers had assembled a profile with several pictures, procured images of a young girl who was supposed to be Smith's daughter, and actually rang Ms. Roberts frequently, using an American accent. In one case, she received calls from "army superiors" confirming the sergeant's need for money. His pleas were desperate-sounding and possibly conceivable: from buying phone time to talk, to paying for passes for a leave of absence. Roberts told the Daily Mail, "I did have doubts but everything he told me sounded reasonable and I was in love." The fact that he was a soldier, and thus couldn't give many details about his job, was all the more convenient.
The bottom line is that, when matters of the heart are involved, it's easy to believe what is being fed to you, which is why scammers do so well on online dating sites. To be fair, online dating is filled with scammers, but also like-minded people who are looking for companionship. The second someone asks for a handout, however, no matter how handsome their army pictures look, be very, very wary.