19th May, 2015
An Australian woman has told a heart rending story about how she lost her life savings of $350,000 to Nigerian scammers who hooked her via a dating site.
Jan Marshall thought she’d finally found love, but not only has she had her heart broken, her life savings of $350,000 have been ripped away.
The Melbourne woman is just another victim of the online dating scams which have cost Australians almost $30 million in the past year alone, the Mail Online reported today.
Ms Marshall, 61, signed up to dating website Plenty of Fish in the hope of finding love after moving to Melbourne from Brisbane in 2012, and matched with one ‘Eamon Donegal Dubhlainn’.
According to his dating profile, Mr Dubhlainn was from Manchester, England, but working in the United States as a civil engineer.
Within a matter of months, she had accepted his marriage proposal, arranged to meet him and started sending money to his bank account.
Little did she know that Eamon Donegal Dubhlainn didn’t exist, and his profile was invented and managed by a group of fraudsters in Nigeria that specifically targeted Ms Marshall.
‘We continued to communicate and very quickly he got me on email and phone and then instant messenger.’
‘Within a month it got very serious and he asked me to marry him, and I accepted, I was fully drawn into his love and attention.’
But for those closest to Jan, the alarm bells were ringing.
‘Several friends tried to warn me, when you were in these things they cut you off from your friends, encourage you to disassociate with them,’ she admitted.
‘They (the scammers) tell you that no one understands what we have, afterwards I had to go back to family and friends – your initial reaction is of shock shame and embarrassment.’
But the tactics were as effective as they were exhausting.
‘They talk to you morning, noon and night, they are professional and manipulative fraudsters, that’s the truth of the matter, just calling them “scammers” trivialises what they do,’ she added.
‘He’d returned to England and then supposedly took a short-term contract in Dubai and promised he’d come onto Australia six to eight weeks after that,’ Ms Marshall said.
‘Once he said he was in Dubai, the money requests started, initially he said he had to pay some taxes he hadn’t allowed for.
‘It all happened over six weeks, and I only paid out to him expecting to get it back.
‘And then it was money for business materials, and it got worse, he supposedly got robbed on the way to pay those taxes,’ she added.
More excuses and elaborate stories began to build, as did Jan Marshall’s expenses.
‘It was always amounts like $40,000, which I gave to him twice, then he said he was in trouble with those he’d contracted work to and had to buy out the contract for $77,000,’ she said.
‘The larger amounts went to bank accounts, those of $40,000 and $30,000 went through Western Union, even thought there is a limit of $10,000 and I was doing it in multiples of 10.
‘Then, when he was apparently on his way to the airport (to come to Australia) he had a car crash and was in hospital, they had other people like nurses and doctors contact you, a document showing the expenses and others playing other roles,’ she said.
‘I didn’t realise it was a scam until he got on a plane to England, he said “I’m on my way now, thanks for everything”, it wasn’t until then that I realised.
For Jan Marshall, the heartbreak and financial ruin caused by the online scam won’t end any time soon.
Now Ms Marshall is fighting the Australian Taxation Office, which is pursuing her for $76,000 after she accessed her superannuation for the ‘man’.
Victoria Police investigated, passing on details to Western Union ‘so the names used could be stopped, as only they can do this’.
‘The only follow up I received is that the money was collected in Nigeria, though I had sent it to Dubai,’ Ms Marshall said.