Facebook Romance Scam

I am in the unfortunate position of attempting to sort out an online grooming 'Romance' scam through Facebook that has drawn my 75 year old disabled mother into. I recently found out she received a friend request from Harry D Walter an Orthopaedic Surgeon from Washington who was doing good deeds for UNICEF in Syria (if only that were the truth). They got chatting and as my mother has had to shield due to ill health and has been on her own for long periods of time, the social friendship was easily welcomed. Needless to say a romantic friendship developed and promises of marriage and a life together was promised by the fraudsters. After a while he asked her for some money to help him release him with his work as all his life savings were tied up in a safety deposit box in a bank in Bulgaria. The usual story !

Anyway at first he asked if my mother could send Bitcoins and was kind enough even to show her how this worked from a very helpful video on YouTube. As she is not tech savvy this fell flat on its face, so the alternative was for her to go out and buy iTunes vouchers. Small amounts to start with just a few hundred pounds a day increasing to as much as £1000 a day purchased in various local shops over the counter. The money to pay for these vouchers came out of her savings paid for on her debit card. This went on for 2½ months until I caught wind of password resets on her email account and that he (they) had taken over her Facebook account.
When pressed on why this mans face was on my mum's FB account she finally broke down saying she had given money to a complete stranger, when asked how much the initial amount was a few hundred, then came the real truth... approx £23k BOOM ! At first I was angry and in disbelief given my profession that my mother had not realised the scam. Unfortunately, my mother does not watch TV in particular documentaries where if she had she would have seen similar stories and would have known the warning signs to the scam. Needless to say she was pressured every day for money otherwise there was no way their friendship couldn't blossom and this guy would become aggressive and blame my mother for his failings and bullied my mother to send more money.


My point of this is firstly to make people aware that this scam can happen to anyone's parent, brother, sister or friend when they are at a low ebb and lonely. Secondly during all of these frantic purchases of iTunes vouchers, not once did her bank pick up on the spending which to be honest is completely out of character and a large sum of money to be spent daily. Should the bank not have a duty of care to its customers especially elderly ones? Surely the fraud departments who look out for unusual spending should have seen tale tell signs ?? 

The police have been contacted and a statement taken. I have managed to secure my mothers email and FB account and traced the scammer down to a static IP address in Ghana. I have email addresses for what they are worth, mobile numbers used by WhatsApp and am currently still in communication with the scammer posing as my mother to distract and keep them on the hook as they are still asking for funds and are now asking if money can be sent directly into a UK account. The Apple fraud team have been able to block some of the Apple pay accounts used to redeem the vouchers and have reclaimed any unspent vouchers. According to the Lincs Police CID team involved there is nothing they can do as the perpetrators of this crime are out of the country and it is not deemed a serious crime i.e murder etc. and will not be high profile enough to be passed to Cyber crime unit. This seems pointless in having a Cyber crime team as most cyber crime takes place outside of the country anyway.... just remind me why we have a police force !

Lloyds bank where the money was taken from on debit card payments have washed hands of any responsibility despite the fact that there was irregular and high spending on the account, a decision that was made by the bank within 24hours of being contacted and without any real investigation or consultation. This is appalling and leaves a 75 year old pensioner in ill health completely abandoned of any help by the very people who should look out for the vulnerable; Police and the Banks !!

Comments

  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,235
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    edited 17 September 2021 at 8:12AM
    I am  surprised Lloyds didn’t flag it up - they were very in the ball with my mother with an unusual spending pattern during lockdown. I guess the complaints route is the way your mother would  have to go forwards, if she feels they could have done more. 
    Being elderly in and of itself isn’t a red flag though and they do have to be careful around age discrimination. 

    I did find this which seems to Indicate that frauds originating abroad are more like to be used as intelligence than actively investigating. 
    https://www.todayadvisory.com/language-services/consultancy/reporting-fraud-to-the-police/
    i don’t know if there’s anything else in there that might help you try to move things on. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • Hi I know this was a while ago but how did you get on with your mum? my mum is involved in the same thing, however the amount is so much more, more like £120,000 but she still doesn't believe they are not real, I don't know what to do, she sends them bitcoin, amazon gift cards, google play cards and god knows what else, she has cashed in her pension, took out loans, used her savings, sold her car, borrowed money, she has nothing left but she wont stop, she's like a heroin addict addicted to their attention. She truly believes she is going to america to live with this millionaire and live happily ever after. The police won't help, I am currently trying to get her a medical health assessment, but they wont go round until they have a bed available in case they need to detain her and there are no beds. I am desperate. 
  • TadleyBaggie
    TadleyBaggie Posts: 5,919
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    The OP is what I refer to a "drive by poster", they post something, never reply and never return. They haven't logged on to MSE for almost 18 months, and it is unlikely they are coming back.
  • jewelly
    jewelly Posts: 513
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    Hi I know this was a while ago but how did you get on with your mum? my mum is involved in the same thing, however the amount is so much more, more like £120,000 but she still doesn't believe they are not real, I don't know what to do, she sends them bitcoin, amazon gift cards, google play cards and god knows what else, she has cashed in her pension, took out loans, used her savings, sold her car, borrowed money, she has nothing left but she wont stop, she's like a heroin addict addicted to their attention. She truly believes she is going to america to live with this millionaire and live happily ever after. The police won't help, I am currently trying to get her a medical health assessment, but they wont go round until they have a bed available in case they need to detain her and there are no beds. I am desperate. 
    You would be better if you start your own thread on the Family/relationships board to get advice instead of posting onto existing ones.

    Good luck.
  • Pollycat
    Pollycat Posts: 34,461
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    Hi I know this was a while ago but how did you get on with your mum? my mum is involved in the same thing, however the amount is so much more, more like £120,000 but she still doesn't believe they are not real, I don't know what to do, she sends them bitcoin, amazon gift cards, google play cards and god knows what else, she has cashed in her pension, took out loans, used her savings, sold her car, borrowed money, she has nothing left but she wont stop, she's like a heroin addict addicted to their attention. She truly believes she is going to america to live with this millionaire and live happily ever after. The police won't help, I am currently trying to get her a medical health assessment, but they wont go round until they have a bed available in case they need to detain her and there are no beds. I am desperate. 
    I agree with starting a new thread.

    Why won't the police help?

    Is it because your Mum has not accepted that she is being scammed?

    On the other thread you posted on there was quite a lot of discussion about whether the police would help in these cases.
    It seems in that case, that the police will call round to speak to the lady to make sure she understands she has been scammed.
    But I guess that doesn't get the money back.
    The lady has accepted she has been scammed but it seems your Mum isn't at that stage yet.


  • diystarter7
    diystarter7 Posts: 5,202
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    edited 26 March 2023 at 5:13PM
    The OP is what I refer to a "drive by poster", they post something, never reply and never return. They haven't logged on to MSE for almost 18 months, and it is unlikely they are coming back.
    Hi

    Appreciated the heads up , so I will just move on!

    Thnaks
  • Abbafan1972
    Abbafan1972 Posts: 6,839
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    edited 26 March 2023 at 8:23PM
    Pollycat said:
    Hi I know this was a while ago but how did you get on with your mum? my mum is involved in the same thing, however the amount is so much more, more like £120,000 but she still doesn't believe they are not real, I don't know what to do, she sends them bitcoin, amazon gift cards, google play cards and god knows what else, she has cashed in her pension, took out loans, used her savings, sold her car, borrowed money, she has nothing left but she wont stop, she's like a heroin addict addicted to their attention. She truly believes she is going to america to live with this millionaire and live happily ever after. The police won't help, I am currently trying to get her a medical health assessment, but they wont go round until they have a bed available in case they need to detain her and there are no beds. I am desperate. 
    I agree with starting a new thread.

    Why won't the police help?

    Is it because your Mum has not accepted that she is being scammed?

    On the other thread you posted on there was quite a lot of discussion about whether the police would help in these cases.
    It seems in that case, that the police will call round to speak to the lady to make sure she understands she has been scammed.
    But I guess that doesn't get the money back.
    The lady has accepted she has been scammed but it seems your Mum isn't at that stage yet.


    @Taylor7979 Yes I agree you should start your own thread.  I thought I recognised your post, as I see you've already posted on here. https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6433964/help-i-think-my-mum-is-being-scammed/p7
    Striving to clear the mortgage before it finishes in Dec 2028 - amount currently owed - £45,189.63/b]
  • Lavendyr
    Lavendyr Posts: 2,551
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    The OP is what I refer to a "drive by poster", they post something, never reply and never return. They haven't logged on to MSE for almost 18 months, and it is unlikely they are coming back.
    Hi

    Appreciated the heads up , so I will just move on!

    Thnaks
    You hadn't posted anything in this thread so why announce that you're moving on?!

    Weird.
  • powerful_Rogue
    powerful_Rogue Posts: 7,462
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    elsien said:
    He posts and then deletes.
    Not anymore it seems..........

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