‘He broke my heart’ Widow devastated after sending £20,000 to scammer she had fallen for

For Love or Money: Woman is scammed out of £16,000

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After her husband died, Debbie joined an online dating site to honour his wishes. He did not want her to be alone so she decided to start dating. Within a week, she started speaking to a man who used a fake identity and alias of ‘Daniel Shore’ and began a relationship. Eventually she sent him £20,000.

She said: “I desperately wanted it all to be a huge misunderstanding but the longer it went on the more I could not do that.”

On the BBC programme For Love or Money today, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste uncovered the truth about the so-called Daniel Shore in an effort to help Debbie draw a line under the horrific online romance fraud she had fallen victim to.

Debbie explained that Daniel claimed to be a civil engineer based in Leeds, in the construction industry. Within a week of them speaking, he told her he had been contracted out to do some work in Ukraine and could not return until he raised enough money for his housing project. After four months, he claimed he needed around £70,000 but was coming up £16,000 short.

Debbie was planning to sell her house so she offered to send him the shortfall once the sale had gone through. Debbie’s daughter Jessica tried to warn her that Daniel was a scammer but she did not listen.

Reassured by Daniel, who had sent her passports and other legal documents, Debbie ignored other people’s words of warning.

Debbie said: “I trusted him totally. Family, friends, everybody was telling me it’s a scam, but I would not have it. I’m terribly ashamed of this but I even at one point said to my daughter, ‘Don’t make me choose, you won’t like the answer’. This is how hard, and how fast I had fallen for this guy.”

Debbie explained that their relationship had grown deeper the more time went on. She claimed that he proposed to her over the phone.

She added: “At this point I just wanted him home and I thought I’m not just helping him, I’m helping me.”

Whilst sending the £16,000 to Daniel, she received warnings from the police and her bank, but she ignored this as she believed it was not a scam.

During the winter months, she also sent Daniel money for warm clothing and accommodation. Over a few weeks, she said she had sent him £4,000. This brought the total amount she had given Daniel up to £20,000.

Eventually, Daniel claimed he was coming back to Leeds, and Debbie went to pick him up from the airport. When she did not see him, she knew something was wrong.

“At this point I started to panic, everyone was right, I was wrong. I’ve just lost £20,000,” she said.

After turning up at his address Daniel gave to her in Leeds, she realised that it was nothing that he had described to her.

She continued: “It was the heartbreak that I couldn’t deal with.”

When Daniel finally got back in touch with Debbie, he claimed he had been held by the Istanbul police for money laundering as he was carrying a lot of cash on him.

She was contacted by someone claiming to be from the Turkish authorities to identify his documents. However Debbie was not convinced and did not do it as she was convinced he was a scammer.

She said: “All I want to do is punch him. Part of me hopes I was wrong but I want to stop his income and once his picture is out there, that will dry up his income and he won’t be able to break someone’s heart and hurt someone how he has hurt me.”

After investigating Debbie’s case, Ashley found that Daniel Shore’s profile was in fact fake.

He found that the scammer was using fake photographs of someone else online and posing as ‘Daniel Shore’.

The phone numbers that Debbie used to contact Daniel were not registered in anyone’s name, and the schools and university he claimed to go to did not have anyone with that name registered.

All the passports and official documents he sent to Debbie were not genuine and had many spelling errors. They were forged.

Debbie said: “I’m not surprised by any of it now. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ve been scammed to the tune of 20 grand.

“He broke my heart but I shed all the tears over him that I am going to shed.”

Daniel’s photo was used under several names on several dating websites. The man whose image had been stolen had sadly passed away in 2015.

Debbie said: “That is despicable, it’s the lowest of the low.

“I don’t know if you can ever get closure from something like this because you carry it with you. I’m never going to trust 100 percent again.

“That hurts a bit, the fact that my husband’s money is now with a scammer and that bothers me.”

For Love or Money continues tomorrow on BBC One at 10am.

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