Romance scam cheats NI woman out of £20,000

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A woman in Londonderry has been conned out of £20,000 by a man claiming to be a soldier seeking romance.

Police said the online scam was reported to the PSNI earlier this week and have urged people to be vigilant.

The victim reported she met the man online and that, after a period of time, he asked for money claiming his bank account had been frozen.

He subsequently persuaded the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, to pass on her online banking details which were then used to forward money to a number of individuals.

By divulging other personal details, the woman also made it possible for the fraudster to steal more of her money.

Police have said that enquiries are continuing to establish what, if any of this cash, can be recovered.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “No matter how big or small the amount of money is that a victim loses, every loss is felt by those targeted.

“However, this scam, where a victim has been swindled out of a significant amount of money, shows why it’s so important for people to be vigilant.

“This woman trusted this man who unfortunately was only after one thing – her money. That is devastating for her.”

The senior officer said the case serves as a stark reminder of why it is important for families to have conversations about the risk of online and other scams.

He added: “We continue to receive reports of fraud on a regular basis, for example, as recently as Tuesday (15th October) we had a report of a person being contacted by people claiming to represent HMRC and telling them they owed money. Thankfully no money was lost.

“When it comes to scams, our message is simple – never ever disclose your personal or banking details to anyone over the phone or online, no matter how convincing they sound to you.

“Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.”

Anyone concerned by unsolicited calls, emails or letters is asked to report it to Action Fraud via their website or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.”

For further advice and information visit or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni