The victim – who asks to remain anonymous and who will be referred to as Carol – lost £150,000 in a romance scam that began on Facebook. Carol’s harrowing experience started when a person claiming to live and work overseas contacted her.
As their friendship developed, the fraudster promised to travel to the UK where the two could meet in person. It was around this time that he first began asking for money.
Talking of how the scammer managed to gain her trust, Carol said: “These scammers don’t ask for cash straight away. They get to know your low points and then comes the drama… That’s when they ask for the money.” And Carol is right. Fraudsters like this are masters of manipulation, gaining the trust of their victims before dropping hints about needing help, and ultimately asking for money. In Carol’s case, the fraudster claimed he had been arrested and needed cash to make bail. He also asked for further financial help, saying he had been left stranded in the wrong part of the country due to an airline error.
Only after this did he begin threatening to take his own life because he was “tired of begging”. This type of emotional manipulation is often used to trick victims into believing that the suggestion of giving money is their idea.
The total amount lost by Carol soon reached £150,000 – though even this wasn’t enough for the scammer. To Carol, the realisation that she had been cruelly deceived came as a crushing blow. She said “It’s devastating. You feel ashamed of what you have allowed to happen. It’s like a disease because you end up lying to the people close to you to hide your shame. Afterwards I did some research and read about victims of fraud taking their own lives. These despicable people prey on those at their most vulnerable.”
After the realisation hit, she contacted her bank for support, believing they would help as it is their duty of care to protect clients from fraud. For losing £150,000, she was awarded compensation of £50 by the bank as an apology. It was at this point that she reached out to CEL Solicitors. We specialise in romance fraud and scam cases. We also offer cases on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning Carol had nothing to lose but everything to gain back.
CEL was able to not only recover all of Carol’s lost money, but also compensation for the difficulties, and interest from the date the money was lost. In Carol’s case, this amounted to £179,000.
On the subject of the process and how she felt when her money was returned to her, Carol said: The only way to get your money back is to get a solicitor. Getting this money back has given me options in life again.”
Chloe Roche, Fraud Team Leader at CEL Solicitors, said: “Victims of romance scams are deceived in the cruellest way, causing them severe emotional distress and financial difficulties. There is hope though, so victims should never be ashamed to come forward and seek advice. As this case proves, if we can demonstrate that more could have been done to protect an innocent victim from a scam then you can get your money back with interest and compensation.”