His messages began to refer to Felix as ‘our son’ (Sara has no children of her own). They’d speak on the phone and he called her Mum (it was her scammer using voice-morphing technology).
In another case, divorcée Suzanne Hardman, then 56, was defrauded of £170,000 by ‘James Richards’, a widower living in Portsmouth.
In fact, James was a gang of Nigerian fraudsters who were later convicted.
It could be getting you to take part in explicit exchanges or send sexual videos. If the ‘one-off deal’ you need to pay is presented as slightly illegal or shady – a mess he has got into and needs help getting out of – you will likely feel too worried to go for help.
Perhaps he is on the edge of retirement or about to leave the military and build a new civilian life; perhaps he was widowed years ago and only now feels able to start again.
They want to know everything about you – your favourite food, your bucket list, your secret fears... Browns and greens are my favourite colours.’ They find real-life reference points: songs you can listen to, colours you can see and films you can watch.
They then come up with very similar responses, only slightly different. to test their control and have something to use against you.
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That’s how powerful it is.’Scam Survivors also works to make life as difficult as possible for fraudsters, baiting them, wasting their time, closing their bank accounts and killing their fake social networking profiles.
But Wayne May admits it’s a drop in the ocean.'The fact that they can afford to do that shows how many others they have on the go.
They may have larger amounts of money to lose and subsequently be more prepared to act as a cautionary tale to others, but men and women, young and old, are equally likely to succumb to romantic fraud.