'She was beautiful, funny - and she scammed me'

1 min read

Thomas and Tonia met on social media and started messaging regularly about their shared passion for travel and their pet dogs.

Thirty-four-year-old Thomas, from the West Midlands, was besotted and was planning their future together, but Tonia was actually a fraudster.

"Tonia and I had so much in common and spoke every day for seven months. She was beautiful, funny and kind," he said.

"Looking back now I can't believe how easy it was for her to take advantage of me. I had no idea she was tricking me into giving out my personal details so she could get money."

Loans ruse

He was the victim of an elaborate trick story. She claimed her parents had died and she was living with a grandmother with cancer in the US.

She said she was paying for food and expensive medical bills, and asked for money. In return, she showed him evidence that she was expecting a hefty inheritance. It was fake.

To make the story appear more realistic, money was transferred into his account. Tonia asked him to distribute it to various accounts, as she did not have one of her own.

In fact, the money had come from loans taken out in his name by the fraudster, without his knowledge. When he started receiving letters from those loan companies, he realised he had been scammed.

He went into his local HSBC branch, explained the situation, and the bank's fraud team refunded the money and is now working on repairing his credit rating.

"I have now shut down my social media account because I don't want to get into a relationship with anyone else that way. It's going to take me a long time to get over this and be able to trust anybody again," he said.

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