Romance scam victims open up about grief after betrayal

  • 15/11/2018

Two Kiwi women have come forward with their experiences of romance scams in the hope of saving others from befalling a similar fate.

Netsafe figures show the scams have been on the rise recently, with $8.7 million lost to the scams between January and September 2018.

Speaking under pseudonyms Mary and Lisa told the Commission for Financial Capability's Bronwyn Groot they had ended up out of pocket and broken-hearted after being scammed.

Both women were approached by men through Tinder and LinkedIn, but the conversation quickly moved to private platforms like Skype, What'sApp or Google Hangout.

The men claimed they worked internationally as engineers and crafted a relationship with the women before beginning to ask for money.

Lisa and Mary said they had no reason to doubt the men, and the stories they were told were usually convoluted.

"We do trust people  that's a thing we Kiwis have instilled in us," Lisa said.

Lisa became suspicious when the man she was speaking to started becoming angry when she refused to comply and spoke to her lawyer, who confirmed she had become a victim of fraud.

By then she was deeply in debt and had to refinance her property.

Mary became suspicious multiple people had been speaking to her, and confronted the scammer, only to lose contact with them immediately.

"I confronted them and said 'I think you're all scammers'. I never heard another word after that," she said.

Both women have suffered on-going effects from the scam, Mary had panic attacks and could not sleep, while Lisa was so traumatised she had to take time off worker.

The pair felt a sense of grief too after losing the person who they felt an emotional connection to, even though the entire relationship was a scam.

Mary has one piece of lasting advice to give to people who read her story. Never give people money.

"I don't ask people for money. I would say the real indication of a scam is the request for money," she said.