United Kingdom

The scammers getting rich on lockdown loneliness

Romance scams are about as old as the pursuit of love itself, but pandemic isolation, the rise of online dating, and a host of digital tools available to fraudsters have contributed to a rise in recorded incidents of fraud, the reporter Lizzie Cernik tells Hannah Moore.

According to the UK’s cybercrime and fraud reporting centre, Action Fraud, 8,863 cases were reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau between November 2020 and October 2021, up from 6,968 the year before. Some of the cases involved simple acts of deception; others involved teams of scammers setting up phoney websites and staging fake video calls to deceive their targets.

Carol Goodall, 62, met her former partner Gary on a dating website after her divorce. The relationship progressed quickly. Within a few months they were talking about getting married, and had decided to pool their resources to buy a house together. Carol, who worked long hours, entrusted Gary with selling her home and putting the funds into a shared account. But after the property sold for more than £200,000, Carol discovered Gary was not who he claimed to be.

Carol Goodall, who had her property and life savings conned away from her by a man she met on a dating site who she thought she had married [the ceremony wasn’t legally binding], he had already been imprisoned for doing the same crime some years earlier. He’s been sent to prison now but none of Carol’s money has been recovered leaving her in straightened circumstances. She is pictured with her elderly staffies Smurf and Pepper

Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

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