'I thought he'd been murdered': Black Country woman conned out of £100k in online dating scam

A Black Country woman has spoken out to warn others after losing more than £100,000 to dating site romance fraud.

Rachel Elwell. Photo: Facebook
Rachel Elwell. Photo: Facebook

Rachel Elwell, from Brownhills, said the man, who claimed he lived in Cannock, told her he had gone abroad for an engineering contract in Ukraine.

He sent the 50-year-old documents and images to show her he needed money and then said he had been taken captive by loan sharks.

Ms Elwell, an export manager, told the BBC: "When he said to me his life was in danger and I didn't hear from him, I thought he'd been murdered.

"Can you imagine feeling you're responsible for whether someone lives or dies?"

Ms Elwell said after he had contacted her on January 1, he told her they would have to wait weeks to meet as he would need to stay in Ukraine, but later phoned claiming laws in that country had changed due to Covid and he now had to pay tax before any of the work began.

She stated a supposed tax office had sent a letter to him, and added: "They said... 'you need to pay 160 thousand'. So he cashed his pension in, sold his car, borrowed money and I helped him.

"I mean at this point I think it was about £45k I'd sent him to help him with the tax bill."

The man claimed two "heavies" had turned up and he he sent her pictures while he was locked in a cellar, Ms Elwell said.

On March 16 he told Ms Elwell he was due to fly back so she want to Heathrow airport and got an email from supposed airport officials saying he had been arrested. She then approached Border Force officials who said, "look, it's a scam".

She went to his supposed house in Coventry to meet his family, but "no such people lived at that house".

Ms Elwell said: "It was in that moment that I knew it was all a lie."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "Rachel’s case is a prime example of romance fraud and her case sadly highlights how much these scammers affect people’s lives.

"Anyone who has been a victim can contact Action Fraud or contact us via Live Chat or by calling 101."

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