Lessons for online dating

January 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Bevan Hurley at HoS reports:

A lonely Kiwi widower who was scammed out of $1 million by an Australian online service is living a retirement in virtual poverty.

Retired Taranaki Regional Council finance manager Alan Young had just lost his wife of 29 years to cancer when he answered an advertisement in a Taranaki newspaper for introductions service True Love Corps.

It cost Young his $500,000 house and life savings after he fell for a con artist he thought was his fiancee.

He now lives a “limited” life on a modest pension in a small town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. He retired with no savings.

Australian courts ordered the dating company directors to repay money, but they are bankrupt and Young may never see the cash.

“It’s changed our whole lives,” said Young’s daughter Jo. “All of his shares and his life savings and house (are gone) and he came to live with me.

“My mum had cancer. She had just died and they took someone who was really vulnerable.”

The con artists are despicable scum. The should go to jail.

But also vulnerability and love, are not reasons to avoid common sense.

Court papers show Young signed up in 2006 and spent $10,000 upgrading his status with the service.

First warning sign. No dating service should cost that much.

She used family illness or disputes as excuses for not meeting him in Melbourne

Be sceptical if they proven difficult to meet in person.

but she accepted his marriage proposal in January 2007.

Don’t propose marriage to someone you have not met.

In 2007, he spent more than $400,000 providing “assistance” to Jovic, including borrowing $120,000 from his mother, who died the same year.

Never ever ever start providing money to people you have never met, unless it is trivial amounts. This one is the big neon flashing warning.

When Young flew to the Gold Coast, he found Jovic’s appearance and personality were different. She said it was due to the stress of a family dispute.

I’m staggered at this point, bells do not ring. Warning Sign 5.

In 2008, Jovic met Young in New Zealand but insisted on separate bedrooms as she had “promised my dear departed mother that I would not have sex until I married you”.

Warning Sign 6. No putting out.

They were to marry in 2008 in Brisbane but when he got there, he was told she had gone to Melbourne to see her lawyer.

Young flew to Melbourne where he got another phone call from Jovic, telling him she was flying to the United States where her daughter had been in a car accident.

Warning Sign 2 repeats itself.

Young contacted True Love Corp and recognised the woman who answered the phone as Angie Jovic, though the person identified herself as Hollie Veall, a director of True Love Corps.

Thankfully, he finally wised up. He is the victim and they are scum. However common sense should have warned him earlier. This does not like like a very sophisticated sting.

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52 Responses to “Lessons for online dating”

  1. duggledog (1,358 comments) says:

    Can I just be the first to reiterate this point:

    ‘Taranaki Regional Council finance manager ‘

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  2. skyblue (197 comments) says:

    Cry me a river. Deserves his poor retirement he has foisted upon himself.

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  3. ZenTiger (425 comments) says:

    Warning sign number 6 is ironic. If the bloke didn’t “put out” his money and saved it for marriage and commitment I probably wouldn’t have to disagree with this as a warning sign. Someone here believes money buys sex before marriage. Not always the case

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  4. MT_Tinman (2,993 comments) says:

    In almost every story I have read of this sort of fraud, the victim, male or female (It has been mainly male) has been employed in a reasonably high profile (national or local) government job.

    Coincidence?

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  5. kowtow (7,634 comments) says:

    What duggledog and zentiger said.

    “No putting out” How crass is that statement?

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  6. Manolo (13,375 comments) says:

    This poor, consummate idiot couldn’t see anything at all.

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  7. skyblue (197 comments) says:

    Manolo – must have been his training at TDC.

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  8. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    “Taranaki Regional Council finance manager ”

    Stuck out a mile.

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  9. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    Tinman, there could be something in that – are you suggesting they have been paid a lot more than they are worth and then their limited ability has become apparent in getting stung so easily?

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  10. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    I feel sorry for the man.

    Seriously… what a **FUCKING MORON!!**

    What a moron. What a moron. What a moron. What a moron.

    And yet the training I received in emphasizing with others from past gf/s is still trying rear its ugly head. He lost his wife etc

    At what point do you stop and say there’s simply no excuse for being that much of a fucking clueless gimp?

    I’m sure that’s an old story.. seen something like that before. It’s totally depressing. Totally and utterly depressing.

    Reminds me of the lady in chch who worked at a bank…Westpac I think… fell for some dating scam from Nigeria or something… and then almost got conned twice in a row only being stopped by bank teller when trying to take out *even more fucking money*. That’s the world we live in. What can you do? No-ones perfect and we all do stupid things. DAMMIT!! I just can’t stop myself empathizing… fucking hell.

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  11. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    This is what I would expect from someone who is the product of our highly feminised society, where women are put on a pedastal and portrayed as victims and held to different standards than men. If he did not comply with her requests, that would be “abuse” in the feminist narrative. NZ is awash with supplicating men, who are famously unlucky with the ladies.

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  12. MT_Tinman (2,993 comments) says:

    Anthony, I’m asking not suggesting. It just strike me as being one constant.

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  13. thor42 (920 comments) says:

    What a complete *moron*.
    No sympathy from this neck of the woods.

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  14. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    One million dollars is nothing. I’m sure he blew much more than that every year as a council finance manager.

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  15. dime (9,442 comments) says:

    poor bastard. obviously a moron but still. Dime doesnt like seeing people scamed.

    im with tinny though – whats with dopey govt workers falling for this?

    i wonder how that chick in that argentine prison is going.. fun times

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  16. backster (2,079 comments) says:

    I wonder what the state of the Taranaki Regional Council’s finances were in when he retired?

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  17. Jimbob (640 comments) says:

    A fool and his money are easliy parted.
    If you have to work hard for your money, you usually look after it.
    If money comes easily, it is usually easily spent.
    There is one born every minute.
    The list goes on.

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  18. kowtow (7,634 comments) says:

    tristanb

    There’s a huge difference between blowing $1million of your own money (the media seems to think so anyway) and blowing many millions of other people’s money,which doesn’t seem to be a problem. In fact I think the MSM think that’s the moral thing to do.

    ps
    The media live in a virtual world of their own if they think retirement on a modest pension equates to “virtual poverty”!

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  19. Fletch (6,026 comments) says:

    On a similar note: a guy got his iphone stolen and so used the dating app on his phone to pretend to be a female to seduce the guy out and get it back…lol. This is from his personal blog –

    On NYE I accidentally left my phone in the cab to the gig, and it was immediately turned off when I called it. Multiple calls/emails to myself (the phone) offering a reward for the following 12 hours were deleted, this dude was clearly keeping it. Damn.

      The next morning I woke up to see that the thief had been on my old OKCupid account sending weird messages to girls at 6 in the morning! Not only is he stealing my phone, he’s creepy and disturbing, and gave me an idea:

      I created a fake email and a half-believable OKCupid account as “Jennifer Gonzalez” – a 24-year-old girl who just moved to Brooklyn and is looking for a man to take her out. I sent a message to the thief (my account) and chatted him up as Jennifer…weird. A few hours later he was headed to “Jennifer’s apartment” for a relaxing bottle of wine and a good time. What a lucky night for him!

      Little did he know that on his way up the stairs I would pop out behind him, calmly give him $20 for my phone (it was in his hand) and tell him the cops were on the way (with a hammer in my hand). RETRIBUTION! The look of immediate shame on his face was priceless, homie was shook and must feel like an idiot. Dude was all dressed up, had a bottle of wine and stank of cologne. As he was walking away I was surprised I said “You smell great tho”.

      YES! Here’s some of my favorite parts: Dude thought that a 24-year-old girl who lives alone would invite a complete stranger over for wine. He also believed “Jennifer” wouldn’t care about “Hay the pic u see on my profile it not my pic it my friend pic.” Also, “Jennifer” got OKCupid messages from 30+ dudes in the ~5 hours that she existed. My apologies to the girl whose picture I used.

      So yeah, got my phone back. Llamame.

    http://nadavnirenberg.blogspot.co.nz/2013/01/got-my-stolen-iphone-back-by-seducing.html

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  20. Longknives (4,464 comments) says:

    I still refuse to believe that Sharon Armstrong was the ‘victim’ of a scam.
    She was a drug runner- clear and simple.

    This guy sounds a bit of a twat also. I do feel sorry for the dottery old people who get scammed but this guy just seems too gullible for words…

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  21. seanmaitland (455 comments) says:

    Yeah, I’m with longknives – its pretty much guaranteed that Armstrong was simply being greedy – after all the press drug smuggling has had since all the shenanigans in Bali, someone wouldn’t be that stupid to believe what she claims. Greedy people usually get the karma they deserve in spades at some point.

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  22. wreck1080 (3,732 comments) says:

    How did he get job in finance?

    The longer I live, the more I realise that many people in important positions are not really that smart. This is probably especially true of people in councils/govt.

    Although I wonder if he was affected by some neuro-degenerative disease?

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  23. transmogrifier (520 comments) says:

    The depth of human stupidity is apparently endless.

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  24. big bruv (13,311 comments) says:

    Dime

    You would be into that online dating stuff, are they really that stupid?

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  25. Dave Mann (1,169 comments) says:

    A fool and his money are easily parted… :(

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  26. Belinda (126 comments) says:

    I don’t feel the slightest bit sorry for Sharon Armstrong, I’m sure she knew exactly what she was doing.
    I do have some sympathy for this guy, I don’t like seeing anyone scammed, sure he was gullible and naive,
    but they were scammers and he was at a vulnerable point in his life, with his wife having just died.
    A bit of empathy never goes astray.

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  27. Longknives (4,464 comments) says:

    So if I’m going through a ‘Rough Patch’ in my life (which we ALL do at some stage) and I gamble all my life savings away at the TAB I can expect ‘empathy’ from fellow Kiwibloggers?
    What this guy did was just as foolish….

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  28. Belinda (126 comments) says:

    I’m sure he realises how foolish he was, and is going to be broke for the rest of his life, but why not reserve some anger
    for the actual scammers.

    It’s not terribly different to so many silly old guys who import a young Asian or Ukranian woman into NZ and marry her.
    and delude themselves that these pretty young girls love them for their personality and looks and not their money.

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  29. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Belinda

    Good on you , you sound genuine BUT would you have the same sympathy if he just blew all the dough on Roxy from the Pelican Club or some name like that on Newton Road, Auckland, building on the corner, painted red so I’ve heard. Fact is he blew his dough on a chick , he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last, I struggle with the whole story, I know there are some seriously unworldly types out there, but come on!

    Longknives

    I have a certainty for you, next Friday ,Port Elizabeth, a huge wad on SA may get 1- 2% return for the win. Your savings will be safe until the next rough patch

    And I now know why most New Zealand cricketers are low handicap golfers- they get so many more golf days than the rest of us.

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  30. gump (1,488 comments) says:

    When did it become ok to start blaming the victims of crime?

    This guy didn’t throw his money away, he was systematically conned out of it by a heartless criminal.

    Sheesh!

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  31. Rex Widerstrom (5,266 comments) says:

    gump asks:

    When did it become ok to start blaming the victims of crime?

    Exactly. What a great steaming pile of hypocrisy above. If someone gets drunk, get picked up in a bar, led outside (by a certain part of their anatomy) and mugged for their wallet then the Kiwiblog commentariat bays for the blood of the “scum”, expresses the hope it’s their third strike, and salivates over what punishments it would inflict if only they had the power and the toys of the Spanish Inquisition.

    Not a word of blame attaches to the victim. And rightly so.

    But a bit of white collar fraud, that’s not that bad. It’s almost respectable in some circles nowadays, just ask a few of our exalted business leaders and MPs. He was virtually asking for it, anyway. Got what he deserved.

    No double standard here, no sir.

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  32. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Rex and Gump

    I don’t think too many of us are blaming the victim what I personlly was trying to get across was, you can’t put brains in a statue and clearly there are some people so stupid that if they weren’t conned by this chick they would have shares in a harbour bridge or think the drunken dwarf cares about New Zealanders. Remembering this guy was a council worker so this might actually be the first time there has ever been a consequence for one of his fuck ups, its harsh but you’re never too old to learn.

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  33. mikenmild (10,744 comments) says:

    I’m not sure that Kiwiblog is a place where one would expect to find empathy.

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  34. Longknives (4,464 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay- No bet. There is always the chance of rain in Port Elizabeth…
    (and does Roxy still work at the Pelican Club?..)

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  35. nasska (10,680 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    Crap! Kiwiblog is full of caring emphatic people…..it’s just that you, as a left wing socialist, don’t get the vibes. :)

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  36. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Longknives

    I just googled “Has it ever rained in Port Elizabeth for 5 days?’” The reply: Don’t be fucking stupid

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  37. gravedodger (1,516 comments) says:

    That was serious cock tax and just as any scam, including scum politicians you don’t get much for a mill, just more misery.

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,266 comments) says:

    @Pauleastbay

    its harsh but you’re never too old to learn

    So I break up with my partner and go on a bit of a bender. In a bar I get chatted up by a woman considerably younger than me who nonetheless says she likes older men etc. She invites me back to her place (which in reality is a place that’s been broken into). We’ve talked all night and seem to be hitting it off, so I follow. I get there and her male accomplice jumps me, kicks the shit out of me, extracts my PIN numbers from me and then keeps me there while she goes down the road and cleans out my accounts.

    They give me a few kicks for good measure and take off in my car, having also taken my keys. You’re one of the first officers to respond to my 111 call.

    Clearly, I’ve been a naive old fool. Do you tell me “hey, you’re never too old to learn”?

    If Brendan Horan is found to have misappropriated his mother’s money, would that be the appropriate response to her, were she still alive? After all, the silly old woman seems to have let her love for her children blind her to their shortcomings.

    It would be great if we could legislate away stupidity, but to do that we’d have to eliminate emotion. Because when you get down to it, the law in fact exists to curtail the outcome of a range of emotions – jealousy, anger, lust, greed, cruelty etc – and to protect people from having other emtions – grief, loneliness etc – exploited.

    You drew on the analogy of the victim in this case falling for Roxy from the local knock shop. If he had, he wouldn’t be the first fool to believe the “prostitute with a heart of gold” myth. If that belief had been callously engendered and then exploited then yes, I believe he would be due a measure of sympathy.

    But he’s from a generation that still believed most women – with the probable exception of Roxy – are feminine creatures without a nasty thought in their heads. Most likely that’s an accurate description of his late wife, who clearly left an enormous hole in his life.

    He was robbed – using psychological rather than physical duress – but robbed nonetheless. We ought not to start blaming the victims and mitigating the crime according to their role in it.

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  39. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Clearly, I’ve been a naive old fool. Do you tell me “hey, you’re never too old to learn”?

    No,no Rex the police would investigate it professionally BUT if you are anything like me and sagging in all the wrong places hopefully someone at some stage will have the heart to say to you ” Oi Romeo what the fuck were you thinking, pissed or not seriously did you really think etc etc..” at the very least it might stop you doing it again!

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  40. duggledog (1,358 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay

    +1

    Rex, I guess some Kiwibloggers become a tad exercised when crooks finally get some kind of meaningful punishment, because we live in New Zealand – spiritual home, supporter of and sanctuary to the criminal.

    I know I do!

    Also we (well I speak for myself only here) have only a modicum of sympathy for this gentleman from the good old faceless, sometimes useless, often completely unaccountable local government system – who clearly only has enough brains to avoid eating himself. Poor old digger but really. He was in charge of money once? Aaaargh!

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  41. pq (728 comments) says:

    The best defence is the advise of your friends.
    I am married to a Thai woman, I entered Thai love links, and I made sure my friends were acquainted with the deals.
    We are strangers to reality, we think our cocks are magnificent, the bulge in your pocket is not cock, it is wallet.

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  42. pq (728 comments) says:

    to Sky river
    skyblue (54) Says:
    January 6th, 2013 at 10:12 am
    Cry me a river. Deserves his poor retirement he has foisted upon himself.

    from paul scott
    you filthy disgusting arrogant piece of shit sky river I hope you die, and I hope you die soon.
    from Paul Scott r

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  43. Rex Widerstrom (5,266 comments) says:

    @duggledog

    I can see why. And I can certainly agree with those above who cast doubt on his ability to manage the finances of a council given his lack of worldliness.

    But that oughtn’t to affect our sympathy for his current plight. I’d even feel a pang of sympathy were the victim Winston :-D

    @Pauleastbay

    As a caution against a repeat performance I can understand saying something like that. Though I do think a lot of the problem was that he clearly had a lovely wife, and thus had none of the armour of cynicism about women which protects some of the rest of us!

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  44. duggledog (1,358 comments) says:

    Agreed. If he lived in my neck of the woods everybody would still look after him

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  45. Belinda (126 comments) says:

    Paul, no I wouldn’t have any problem at all if he had met up with Roxy from the pelican club, it would have been cheaper
    and at least he might have got some return on his money..

    I agree Rex he probably did have a nice wife and didn’t realise how conniving some people are.
    I didn’t read the whole story, did he actually get to meet the woman or was it men conning him.

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  46. Belinda (126 comments) says:

    lol I reckon if you guys got a picture like this and thought it was your potential bride
    you’d risk a few $$$ on the potential upside
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/league/8147946/Benji-Marshall-tackles-married-life

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  47. Dazzaman (1,123 comments) says:

    Poor bloke.

    It is difficult to see how he could be so gullible though….I mean, there’s sheltered and there’s sheltered, obviously the late wife controlled the purse strings for him to spread his dosh so liberally without getting a clue pretty early in the game.

    Nothing to do about it now….except suck it up.

    If he wanted to meet someone why not go down the pub or join a club? Works for lots of people.

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  48. gump (1,488 comments) says:

    The most extraordinary thing about this story is that the Directors of True Love Corps haven’t faced any criminal charges.

    Their company was brought before the NSW Fair Trading Commission, who ordered them to repay the money, but the Directors have declared bankruptcy and are unlikely to repay any of the stolen money.

    It always amazes have leniently we treat white collar criminals.

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  49. wreck1080 (3,732 comments) says:

    Personally I do blame the victim for being unreasonably reckless (barring any medical issue). The victim is also contributing to the problem by feeding the thieves and encouraging other fraudsters.

    Everyone knows there are thieves, fraudsters, and nasty people all around us. Nigerian scams abound, love scams are constantly reported in the media.

    If you left your keys in the ignition and your car is stolen will your insurance company blame you and deny your claim? Sure, the car thief is ultimately to blame but they are a constant and known threat to any normal person. But knowing that thieves exist then leaving your keys in the ignition surely means you are at fault by assisting a known ‘threat’ to steal your car.

    Gump is wholly correct too — these fraudsters should be in jail.

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  50. Belinda (126 comments) says:

    At least most of us agree the fraudsters should be in jail despite the victim’s naivety/stupidity

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  51. Ed Snack (1,738 comments) says:

    Rex, I think you rather misrepresent what most commentors are being derisive about. In your example, would we be entitled to ask after your sanity and question your participation in the little scenario you sketch out if:

    1. Your nice little barmaid asked you for an extra couple of thousand as a loan or gift;
    2. After handing her that, she asked for another $10K because she needed to fly somewhere “really urgently”;
    3. After handing her that she disappears, and you sit and wait. After a period she calls on your cellphone and asks you to transfer another $50K into her bank account because she “really needs it”;
    4. After transferring the money (and you’re still sitting around waiting) she text’s to say she can’t make it back today, but she’ll be in touch;
    5. A week later she calls and needs another $200K, really urgently (and ps, she really, really, loves you), and arranges to meet back at the “love nest” next week;
    6. Back at the love nest next week, she’s not there, but after a couple of days you get a text (as chance would have it, while you’re out getting a bite to eat as you got hungry hanging around outside here dingy little flat), which explains that she’s been called away to a sick relative’s bedside, and she needs another $100K to buy medical treatment for said relative;
    7. After that transfer, you’re nearly cleaned out, but still keen on this lovely person, but as you wait a large man comes up and threatens you for harassing his girlfriend, beats you up, etc,….

    So you go to the police and you wonder why they laugh at you ? Oh, and they will at least attempt to prosecute the basher, but the monetary transactions were voluntary ones, were they not ? Where’s the crime ? Misrepresentation perhaps, but if she claims she really meant it at the time, but changed her mind…?

    I imagine it is rather a sad situation, and after a possibly traumatic event in the death of his wife he may have been in a vulnerable state. But it took a while to fleece him, and how many warning signs should a person need ? I think he’s now a probably wiser but definitely a poorer person. But if he voluntarily gave the money, proiong a criminal offense might be not simple. The details given though do suggest that there was criminal intent, but the police (here and Australia) are frequently averse to prosecuting fraud as it can be a very difficult area to show much success. Personally, I’d be in favour of almost draconian enforcement against fraud, at be prepared to pay more to do so as I believe that fraud is a serious problem that undermines trust in a community.

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  52. Warren Murray (277 comments) says:

    Yes he was foolish, but step back and you can see his life was falling apart. His wife died, his mother died, he was facing impending retirement and i suspect didnt have a clue what he would do in retirement. Those scammers took advantage of several people, and i wonder where the money went? Such a large sum too. They must have known they would get caught. Perhaps bankruptcy was part of their plan.

    More info on the scammers would be good.

    One other point, it would be good to see pics of criminals with such reports.

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