The true cost of fake love – online dating scams

We’d all like to think that it’s those ‘other people’ who get scammed out of their life savings, never us. The sad thing is that the people who lose money in these schemes think that too. No matter how smart we think we are, there’s a point for everyone where rhyme and reason are replaced by foolhardiness. Sadly, for some it costs them dear, as once again we highlight the true cost of fake love – online dating scams.

At the time of this story Suzanne Hardman was 58, a former Office Manager and recently divorced; she wasn’t a stupid woman by any means but she was lonely. Suzanne had been going through a rough time. It wasn’t enough that her marriage had ended after 29 years, but her parents had also recently passed away. Suzanne wanted a fresh start and decided that registering on popular online dating site would be a great way to kick start the next stage in her life. She may have been lonely, but she wasn’t alone as was evident by the messages she soon received from all manner of suitors. One of the men who caught Suzanne’s eye was James Richards. He fitted Suzanne’s wish list perfectly; tall, good-looking, professional and successful. What’s not to like? Suzanne sent him a ‘wink’,’s way of initiating contact.

James and Suzanne were soon conversing like a pair of teenagers. Initially their messages were confined to the site, but soon they progressed to external emails and telephone calls. They were getting on famously and found they had a number of things in common. They were both the only child of parents they had both recently lost. What were the chances! Unbeknown to Suzanne, her need to feel wanted was playing right into James’ hand. Unfortunately James didn’t have any hands because James didn’t actually exist. His profile seemed real enough, but only in the way anyone could join and create a fictitious life story that could lure those looking for love. Yes, his photographs were real, his emails were real (despite the poor spelling and grammar) and the voice at the end of the telephone seemed very real indeed. However, none of them belonged to American-born James Richards from Portsmouth. He was a fabrication created by four UK-based, Nigerian-born scammers but they hadn’t finished with Suzanne just yet.

As their relationship blossomed, Suzanne was falling for James more everyday. His emails were regular and full of the sentiments she was hoping for. By her own admission they were a little gushing, but who doesn’t love a man with a sense of romance, however enthusiastic he appeared to be. Within his expressions of love, James started to plant the seeds of the scam by pulling on their shared pain. James’ parents had died (as had Suzanne’s) but, as James explained in numerous emails, their estate was trapped in bureaucratic limbo in India. He started to share his frustrations with Suzanne about how he was struggling to free up the huge amount of money he was inheriting. With all these problems, how could he possibly free up the time to meet Suzanne. The sooner he could get it resolved, the sooner they could get together.

Once the seed was planted, it start to grow roots. After exhausting all his options, he finally succumbed and asked Suzanne for the £700 he needed to release the funds. Now you wouldn’t give a relative stranger £700 would you? No. Suzanne wouldn’t either, but these scammers were smarter than that. The money needed to go through a solicitor, for Suzanne’s protection. In fact the law firm that James asked her to use was very real, so Suzanne’s suspicions were allayed. While the firm existed, the contact she spoke to every day to continually verify James’ expanding story didn’t work there, but how was she to know that. The first £700 wasn’t the last money that Suzanne sent him. Before long she’d sent James, via his ‘solicitor’, a total £174,000. Once she had sent the last penny she could, the solicitor had some bad news. James had gone missing. It was at this point that the penny dropped.

Suzanne contacted the police but the damage had been done. When her story appeared in her local newspaper, other people who had also been scammed and subject to dating scams in the same way came forward. Eventually the men behind this dating scam were brought to justice but sadly, they aren’t the only ones. Sites like are happy to take your money, but make no effort to verify the identity of those creating profiles. Suzanne and many people like her pay the price every week for this lack of care. How can so many profiles be faceless? There is another way and that way is We personally interview everyone who joins our service to ensure they are who they say they are.

We guarantee that the people you meet through Searchmate are real, genuine individuals who are, like you, looking for a real and potentially lasting relationship.  We care about our clients’ security and ofer a unique personal, private, matchmaking service and that’s the difference that brings people from online dating sites to us, in increasingly large numbers and we are proactive to ensure that none of the dating scams that are common on online dating, darken our doors.

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