Swindlers rip off the lonely the world over

Jeanette Styles, 56, from Scarborough, UK, went on a holiday to Italy a few years ago, she met Mr Rudi Sloot.

The 56-year-old went on a holiday to Gambia, West Africa, a few years ago.

It has a reputation for being a hotbed of holiday romances between young local men and older British women.

There, Ms Jane Cole from Yorkshire, UK, met Michael, a 26-year-old Nigerian bartender. She fell for his charms, the Mail Online reported.

Soon, he proposed and they were married. He insisted on moving to the UK, while she wanted to settle in Gambia. But she agreed.

As soon as they arrived in the UK, Michael began to act strangely. He disappeared for long periods.

When she called a number that appeared frequently on his phone bill, she realised he had been in a relationship with another woman for six years.

When she confronted him, he said: "People laugh when they see us together." She was devastated.

When widow Jeanette Styles, 56, from Scarborough, UK, went on a holiday to Italy a few years ago, she met Mr Rudi Sloot.

Handsome and polite, he spun a few tales. He told her he was an undercover agent in the White House.

She flipped.

Soon, he was talking her into buying expensive cars and loaning him money, with the promise that he would pay her back.

But he did not, the Mail Online reported.

One night, when he became aggressive, she called the police. They arrested him and revealed he was a wanted man on the run from Interpol for committing fraud.

Ms Styles is now rebuilding her life with her new partner Adrian, a local chef.

She was just 16 when she started an online relationship with Jan, a Turk living in Marmaris, Turkey.

Alanah Longshore, from Scotland, began chatting with him and finally met him in Turkey in 2010, the Mail Online reported.

They grew close and she decided to move to Turkey.

But the relationship soon soured. Money ran out and he began spending more time outside.

When he became violent, she fled home. She was pregnant.

Soon she discovered that he was a serial philanderer.

Now, she is seeking legal advice to ensure that her young son is safe from his father, who has threatened to take him back to Turkey.

US

US$105million (S$133 million)

Total losses reported by US Federal Trade Commission in 2013.

The amount was almost the same as the year before.

50 years and over

Age of most victims according to FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

1,152 out of 4,476 complaints

About a quarter of online romance scams came from the 50+ age group.

The total amount reported lost to scams from this age group is almost

70 per cent of the total loss (US$38 million out of US$55 million)

CANADA

C$16 million (S$18 million)

Amount Canada's fraud unit reported lost to love scams in 2012, up from about C$600,000 in 2008.

AUSTRALIA

A$25.3 million (S$28.7 million)

Amount the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported had been lost from 2,770 incidents of love scams brought to their attention last year.

More than 400 people lost up to A$10,000 while 64 victims lost over A$10,000.

UK

1,000

Number of British people who are victims of dating scams each year, according to the Office of National Statistics.

US$13.7 million

Amount refunded from 4,870 foiled romance scams three years ago by MoneyGram International, which seems to be the money transfer service of choice for scammers.

Source: Wall Street Journal, The Motley Fool

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