A mother-of-three has vowed never to use dating apps again after being scammed out of £79,000 by a man she met on Tinder.
Christine appeared on the American talk show Dr. Phil got up to talk about her experience and fought back tears as she recalled the situation.
“We met through the app and just talked and texted,” she said.
“He always had an excuse for why we couldn’t meet in person, why we couldn’t FaceTime.
“I spoke to him on the phone but it was 99% back and forth texting.
“But the conversation was so engaging and he asked questions unlike anyone else, so I trusted him.”
He continued to build Christine’s trust until he asked for money for the first time.
“The first time he said he needed $500 (£400) for his daughters, I sent it to him through Paypal and he paid me back,” she said.
“Next time it was about $1,500 (£1,204) – I did it, he paid me back. I had no reason not to trust him.”
He then asked Christine to deposit a check for £79,000 into her account as he had a part time job.
Have you been the victim of a scam?
Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, scammed or experienced cybercrime.
Action Fraud may also receive fraud information from people who have been in a situation where fraud could have occurred but has not, for example if they have received a letter or email asking for money in relation to a false lottery win, inheritance or other proceeding for money that is not genuine but has not replied to the sender or sent any money.
To contact Action Fraud, call 0300 123 2040.
“I deposited the $85,000 and the bank immediately made $500 available to withdraw,” she explained.
“Two business days later, the bank made the full $85,000 available in my account.
“So I assumed in my head that means the check had cleared – the bank wouldn’t have made as much money available if they hadn’t.”
“So he asked me to transfer $82,000 (£65,800) and said I could keep $3,000 (£2,400) just because I helped him, so I made the transfer.”
But four business days later, Christine was contacted by the bank and told her it was a fraudulent check and they never received the money from the check maker.
They also told her that not only was she liable for that money, but that they would “seize every dime you have to your name.”
“So imagine me, a single mother of three young children,” she said, breaking down in tears.
“I couldn’t buy groceries, I couldn’t pay my mortgage, I couldn’t pay our bills, what should I do?
“I’m blessed because my family has helped, but this person keeps telling me, ‘There must be something wrong with the bank,’ or ‘I’m going to talk to my boss, that must be the problem, I love you so very, we’ll work through that, don’t worry.
“But I’m in tears, I’m out of every dime I have. It would have been a lot easier if he just took the money and ran away.
“It’s the whole next six weeks of him still convincing me he loves me that really, really hurts.”
Christine then did her best to get out of the soul-destroying situation.
But then she received another message from the man, who told her his real name was William and that he was part of an organized theft group targeting women on dating apps.
How to protect yourself from fraud
USE the following tips to protect yourself from scammers.
- Keep your social media accounts private – Think twice before giving out your details – especially your full date of birth, address and contact details – all of this information can be useful to scammers.
- Deactivate and delete old social media profiles – Keep an eye on your digital footprint. If a profile was created 10 years ago, a scammer may currently have personally identifiable information available that you are unaware of or have forgotten.
- Protect your devices with a password– Keep passwords complex by picking three random words like Roverducklemon and adding or dividing them with symbols, numbers and capital letters.
- Install antivirus software on your laptop and personal devices and keep them up to date – This makes it more difficult for fraudsters to access your data in the first place.
- Be careful with public WiFi– Scammers can hack or mimic them. If you use one, avoid accessing sensitive apps like mobile banking.
- Don’t forget your offline information, too – Always redirect your mail when you move and make sure you have a safe mailbox or post box.
host dr Phil McGraw asked Christine why she thinks he would have done that, to which she replied: “Naive as it may sound, part of me would like to believe that it’s because he really loved me and that he did felt really bad about it He left my kids and I in this situation.
“But I’m not stupid, I know it’s probably all a lie, but it’s the emotional part of it.
“It’s like I’m taking every dollar I have, that’s one thing, but never being able to trust anyone again – that’s why I can’t run dating sites anymore.”