New Zeeland - Canterbury man loses $ 45,000 in romance Facebook scam

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http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/north-canterbury/72642096/f/b

Canterbury man loses $45,000 in romance Facebook scam

MYLES HUME
Last updated 14:07, October 2 2015
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

A Canterbury man was duped out of $45,000 by a woman who befriended him on Facebook.

A man has lost $45,000 after he was duped in an elaborate romance scam on Facebook.

Police say there is little they can do to recoup the man's losses after he made untraceable payments over several months to the overseas scammer.

Senior Sergeant Paul Reeves, of Rangiora, said the the scammer, using a female profile, befriended the North Canterbury man through Facebook.

A romantic relationship developed and the woman said she needed $1500 from the man to pay lawyers fees to free up an $800,000 inheritance. She sent him fake documentation to back up her claims.

Reeves said the scammer also asked the man to cover the cost for a sick child. Unexpected bills and "hard times" were among the other methods used to dupe the man who transferred $45,000 in total.

The payments were made through Western Union, a popular pay method scammers used because it was virtually untraceable.

"There was one thing after another but then realising his accounts were diminishing, that's where he's stopped and come to us," Reeves said.

"He's annoyed and disappointed in himself; it would be devastating."

The man tried to contact the scammer, but the Facebook profile vanished and there was no response.

Reeves said he had spoken with police fraud investigators who worked with Interpol and was told it would be nigh on impossible to track down the scammer.

Despite claiming be operating out of the United States, it was likely the scammer was in Africa or Asia, he said.

"If it's too good to be true, and if people are asking you for money, do not send it, it is a scam."

Last year Kiwis lost $1.5 million in romance scams, with an average loss of $23,000 - and those were cases only reported to NetSafe.

More than $10m had disappeared in all scams reported to the organisation this year, the majority online.

NetSafe operations manager Lee Chisholm said untraceable payments through Western Union and MoneyGram should raise suspicions.

"In terms of romance scams, the minute anyone asks you for money that is an absolute red flag, especially if they say they are overseas.

"They can go through a lot of trouble and talk to people for a very long time to build their trust. All of the things they say seem credible at the time."

More information about the signs of scams can be found at www.netsafe.org.nz
 
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