Woman left ‘broken’ after Scrabble lover cons £200k from her

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The 56-year-old woman met someone she thought was called Eric via an online Scrabble game

A woman living in the North East has spoken out after becoming a victim of romance fraud.

The 56-year-old thought she had fallen in love with a man she met via an online Scrabble app, but they turned out to be a scammer who ran away with more than £200,000 of her money.

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The woman said: "It all began so innocently, we met playing Scrabble Go, he called himself Eric and we got on really well.

"We liked the same things and after chatting for a while we moved to the chat platform Hangouts and then Whatsapp.

“I had just come out of a failed relationship of nearly 40 years and I was feeling very lonely.

"Eric seemed to understand, and our conversations were deep and after a while we fell in love – or so I thought – as it turned out he was just telling me everything I wanted to hear.”

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The victim went on to describe the conversation as "intense" as the fraudster said he was a Christian who was widowed and with a daughter.

She said: "We spoke daily, had phone and video calls so I felt like I knew who I was speaking to and never for a second believed I was being scammed.

“It started out small amounts of money but I ended up losing over £200,000 in total.

"He got me to open a Bitcoin account to transfer the money.

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"At the time I thought I was doing a good thing and helping people in need and I was promised I’d get it back and more – he had my trust and I thought he loved me, I was totally sucked in.

“All photos I received seemed genuine, but officers showed me how to reverse search an image and then I saw they were all fake.

"When I realised what had happened and how much I’d lost I broke down in front of my family because I was so ashamed and felt so stupid, but my children were so supportive.

"I was left with £300 to my name when all I wanted was to find love but I paid the price.”

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The incident took place about two years ago and the victim hopes her words may help others realise they too are victims and to report it to the police.

She said: "I’m finally in a better place. I’m in a new relationship, have a new home and have got a new job.

“Life is too short to dwell, but I remember the feeling when I realised what had happened to me- the enormity of it all was overwhelming.

“Luckily the support I got from Action Fraud and Northumbria Police was fantastic and I would urge anyone who has concerns or thinks they’ve been a victim to speak out - reporting what happened to you can help prevent it happening to others.

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“I’ve been able to put this behind me now. Life is for the living and I certainly intend to do that now.”

Nearly £92 million was lost by victims across the UK last year at the hands of con artists who strike up relationships with people just to scam money from them.

If you think you are a victim, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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