A MAN was scammed out of £25,000 as North Wales Police are warning people about the dangers of romance fraud. 

In the lead-up to Valentine's Day, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin, and the North Wales Victim Help centre are running a public awareness campaign with Get Safe Online to provide tips and advice for residents on dating safely online.

Get Safe Online is a leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety in the UK.

Throughout February the campaign aims to prevent people from becoming victims of romance fraud, similar to a case study they have shared....

A 65-year-old man from Wrexham joined a website called Badoo and was looking for a friend.

He received a message from someone and was quickly asked to move over to WhatsApp. They had been speaking to each other since March 2023 and the report was made to the police in January 2024.

The victim was lonely, lived alone without family contact as they were estranged following his mother’s death. He has shared that he suffers with depression and has mental health needs and feels isolated.

He shared information with the person he thought he was entering into a relationship with and she began asking for money telling him it was to put a deposit down on their home together. He sent cash, Apple gift vouchers, gifts, jewellery and an iPhone.

The female would ask that the items were posted to her uncles’ addresses and there were five addresses in total. His total loss was around £25,000.

When contacted by Victim Support, he responded to initial contact and asked for help with advocacy with the police and support for the emotional impact of the situation he is in.

The victim has explained in detail that the priority is not the money going, but the lies and deceit he feels he has been subjected to and the emotional impact this has had on his life.

The victim is engaging in weekly calls with Victim Support and has said it is very helpful to talk to someone who understands and while he remains emotionally torn, the fact that he has reached out for support is a positive step on him building resilience and recovering from this ordeal.

DC Rachel Roberts, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer in North Wales Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: “Romance fraud is a particularly cruel and impactful crime, which leaves victims not only financially devastated but also emotionally distraught.

“In many cases victims are not asked outright to handover money, as most would instantly recognise this as a red flag. Instead, criminals will prey on the generous nature of their victims and create a fictitious situation where the victim feels the need to help by offering to send money.

“Often it is hard for victims to come to terms with the reality of the situation once they become aware that the person they trusted implicitly has lied and manipulated them. This then leads to victims feeling they are responsible for their loss and ashamed of their actions."

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, said: “One of the key priorities within my Police and Crime Plan for North Wales is supporting victims and communities and the approach to Valentine’s Day is a time when many people decide to search for new connections and, possibly, a new relationship. But while many people out there in the dating world are innocently looking for romance, some are searching for less positive reasons.

"I would urge all residents of North Wales to be on guard against romance fraud and to follow the advice of the police to keep themselves safe.”

What to do if you become a victim of romance fraud

If the fraud is in progress and there are suspects present report direct to North Wales Police on 101 or if it is an emergency dial 999.

Otherwise, you should report the matter to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk. Action Fraud are the national reporting centre for fraud across England and Wales.

Victim Help Centre

If you’ve been affected by fraud in North Wales, call your local Victim Help Centre team on 0300 303 0159.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-5pm