A coroner in the UK has warned that more action is needed to protect people from internet dating scams, after a man lost thousands of dollars to fraudsters who were posing as members of a dating site.
Ian Doney, 51, was conned into sending money and paying for flights for a woman he believed was his girlfriend, who was travelling to the UK to see him.
Doney met the woman online, but it turned out a fraudster was behind her profile, convincing him to continue to send money under the guise of funding medical care, the Telegraph reports.
After he ended his own life, a coroner linked his mental health struggles and attempts to take his own life as stemming from "really unfortunate relationships with fraudsters".
His sister Gillian Doney said her brother was borrowing money, selling his possessions and going hungry in order to send money to his online girlfriend.
He had even updated his relationship status on Facebook, and had hopes to start a family.
At one point Doney took an overdose and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He was beginning to turn his life around when he was again targeted by fraudsters online.
Concluding the inquest, assistant coroner Jane Eatock asked mental health professionals to look into what more could be done to support vulnerable individuals from being targeted by fraudsters.
"In the end he's chosen a way which wasn't the right way," she said, adding that he "was in the grip of what has been described as a fantasy."
Where to get help:
- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Healthline - 0800 611 116
- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757