Warning over American soldier scam
POLICE say more lonely Plymouth women have been conned by bogus American soldiers who pluck at their heartstrings for cash.
City detectives say they have had further reports of women claiming to have handed over vast sums in the belief the money is going to help their new ‘boyfriends’ who are serving in Afghanistan.
However, investigations go on to uncover a widespread scam by Nigerian fraudsters who have successfully targeted desperate UK women through legitimate internet dating sites.
Det Sgt Rod Nicholls said he had recently dealt with three cases, one where a woman made three payments totalling a five-figure sum and another where around £7,500 was given away.
“These are tragic cases where vulnerable women who have gone looking for love on legitimate sites have been conned by people claiming to be lovesick American soldiers,” he said.
The con-artists quickly move off the website to begin sending personal emails back and forth, developing the relationship and trust.
Once the rapport is built up, with personal information gathered from the woman, appeals for cash begin, with heartbreaking stories to convince her.
The money is invariably paid into a British bank account before being forwarded on to Nigeria. The ‘American soldier’ then disappears.
“In the last three cases I’ve looked at, a substantial amount of money has been lost,” said Det Sgt Nicholls.
“It’s undoubtedly sad that these women are so desperate for love they’re willing to hand over large amounts of money.
“This is a nationwide scam. It begins with a handsome American soldier who’s looking for a nice British woman, usually middle-aged, frequently widowed or divorced.
“The photos, the sob stories and explanations are all bogus and the women are being conned into thinking they’re helping a genuine soldier,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a sick son or daughter from their previous marriage, or they need the cash so they can fly to England to visit the woman.
“These are cruel and callous conmen who are using vulnerable women and we want to make people aware this method is currently being used and has been very successful in duping females who are using dating agency websites.”
Anyone who believes they or a friend is being duped by a similar scam is advised to call the police on 08452 777444.