Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Head of Australian military’s identity used for online ‘romance scam’

Australia’s most senior military official has had his identity stolen by fraudsters, trying to scam money out of women through online dating
Boarding pass
When the fraudster asked for €300 for a plane ticket, which he said he would repay by selling five kilograms of gold, Anna Linden grew suspicious Photo: ALAMY
Harriet Alexander

By Harriet Alexander

5:32PM BST 29 Jun 2014

When Anna Linden’s online friendship with the handsome Australian general blossomed into romance, she thought she had finally met someone special.

The 54-year-old waitress from Aachen in Germany was initially surprised when Mark Binskin added her as a friend on Facebook. But he explained, in German, that he was lonely – serving in Kabul, soon to retire, having been single for eight years.

It was only when he asked for €300 for a plane ticket, which he said he would repay by selling five kilograms of gold, that she grew suspicious.

And to her shock, her professed lover was revealed to be a fraudster using the stolen identity of an actual person – Air Marshall Mark Binskin, 54, the married former head of the Australian Air Force, who next week will take up his role as head of the Australian Defence Force.

“I knew he [the fraudster] would just keep asking for more money,” Miss Linden told The Sydney Morning Herald – having already fallen victim to a similar scam, in which she handed over €8,000.

And she said she knew of other women in Germany and two in other countries who have been approached by the Binskin impersonator.

A Defence spokeswoman said the department had not been aware that the nation’s top military officer’s identity was being used to target lonely hearts, but an investigation had been launched.

It is not even the first time a senior military official from Australasia had his identity stolen and used for “romance frauds”.

Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, who until February was the chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, was used in a similar scam in 2012.

And in 2010, The Telegraph reported how a Ghanaian fraudster was being prosecuted, with the help of British police, for targeting a series of women and posing as American soldiers.

One of his victims told how she had been swindled out of £271,000.

More than 200,000 people in Britain have fallen victim to online romance scams, the first major university research into the problem indicates.

But embarrassment often leads many victims to avoid coming forward, and so the true scale of the problem is likely to be far greater.

According to consumer campaigning charity Which?, 40 per cent of people who have used a dating website have discovered fake profiles, and 20 per cent have been asked for money by someone.

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July 17, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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