Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Disabled Hills man victim of Nigerian Love Scam

A wheelchair-bound man has been ripped off while using a social networking site. Picture: JOE MURPHY

SCAM merchants have stolen nearly $2000 from a wheelchair-bound Baulkham Hills man looking for love.

The 39-year-old joined the American social networking site Tagged.com which boasts 80 million members worldwide.

He thought he had found a true friend when a woman calling herself Juliana Valdez emailed him from Nigeria.

She told him she was a 30-year-old orphan, with no family, who had been abandoned by her abusive partner.

They exchanged emails several times a day for a few weeks before she asked him if he could send her money to settle a bill that could land her in court. He did.

By then Juliana knew that the Hills man lived alone and needed the help of a carer each morning to get up. She told him she was a Christian woman who wanted to marry him and care for him so he wouldn’t need outside helpers.

She asked him for nearly $2000 for a ticket to fly to Australia to be with him. This he wired to her from the post office.

The man, who was badly injured in a motorbike crash at age 19, was dipping into his compensation fund.

His sister said she and her parents tried to warn him after discovering the phone number and other details Juliana had given him were bogus.

“It has created a big rift between us and we were so close,” she said.

The sister finally went to police after her brother received an email saying Juliana had been badly injured in a car accident on the way to the airport. The taxi driver had been killed and she needed a life-saving operation costing $10,000.

“For six or eight weeks my brother was getting calls late at night and early in the morning from ‘the doctor’ saying they needed money for this operation to save her life,” his sister said.

“They said she was calling out his name. He was very distressed.”

The man’s sister contacted police after changing her brother’s email address and telephone number.

“This has really destroyed us,” she said. “We were so close. It has affected his relationship with our parents as well, and undermined his own confidence.”

She said her brother was a vulnerable victim who became entangled in a web of lies after he surfed the net looking for companionship when his flatmate left to get married.

She wanted to warn people of the dangers as she didn’t want anyone else to be hurt. She said she had emailed the social networking site the woman had joined, but had received no reply.

Hills crime manager detective Chief inspector Wayne Murray said people needed to be alert to likely scams and never send money overseas to people they did not know.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has set up the ScamWatch website to detail the numerous scams. Inquiries: http://www.scamwatch.gov.au

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February 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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