Loving laundering

As you tuck into that heart-shaped box of chocolates and gaze at the dozens of red roses currently scenting your surroundings, spare a thought for the victims of romance fraudsters.  I have written about these poor people – poor in both senses, by the end of it – before, but it seems that the fraudsters are growing ever more wily and ever more ruthless.  In the good old days, romance fraudsters were content simply to ensnare their victims with sugared words of love and entice them to send money.  But your modern romance fraudster does all of that and then – then! – persuades his victim to launder money for him as well.

Hope springs eternal, it seems, for despite all the publicity people are still falling for these frauds in their droves.  Statistics from the US reveal that reported romance frauds are increasing by 20% a year – and you have to remember that many victims (the FBI reckons about 85% of them) are far too embarrassed to report what has happened.  The people most likely to fall victim – 82% of them – are women, and the majority of those are over fifty years of age.  In an interesting twist – and perhaps we should blame this on chick clicks and chick lit, where reforming the bad boy is a standard trope – some fraudsters admit their crime to their victim but say that they have actually fallen in love with her, and just need a bit more money to come and see her and beg her forgiveness in person…

But back to this money laundering development.  In 2012, Sherroll Foster in Uxbridge registered with an online dating website.  She soon “met” a man called Mark Hamilton who convinced her that he needed money to release £4 million in gold deposits in Ghana.  Well of course he did.  Sherroll began sending him money in February 2013, taking out an overdraft and loans to send him a total of £65,000.  He then told her that other friends were also trying to help him but didn’t have access to bank accounts, and needed to use her account to send the money to him…  In fact they were other women he was scamming, and one of them realised what was happening and reported the fraud.  Sadly for Sherroll, even after she had been arrested and charged with fraud and money laundering and was on bail to the court, she refused to believe that her paramour was a cheat; she accepted a further £3,500 from another victim and transferred it to her “soulmate”.  In August 2016 she admitted money laundering and was ordered to repay the £3,500.  Mr Hamilton has not been traced.

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2 Responses to Loving laundering

  1. Claire says:

    I worked really hard for my financial independence. I skimped and I saved and I invested wisely. The father of my children would gladly have taken everything away from me. I will never ever help a man financially. This might sound very harsh. But you know, the only one looking out for me, is myself. It’s not only these love fraudsters, it’s also those men who like women to be financially dependent on them. My number one advice to any woman, married or single: make sure you are financially independent! And protect that independence. A man who truly loves you, will support you in this matter.

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