The number of people defrauded in the UK by online dating scams reached a record high in 2016, the Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. What does Judith Lathlean do?
2. What human qualities did both Judith and John emphasize?
3. Where did John go to work?
4. What did John lose?
5. How many relationships start online in the UK?
6. How much money was lost to cybercrime last year?
7. How much money did Judith send John?
Millions of us use dating websites but not everyone online is looking for love. Every year thousands of single people in the UK are conned by criminals using fake profiles on dating sites.
I woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly realized not only was it a scam but that this so-called John was part of this gang.
Judith Lathlean is a university professor from Winchester. In 2015 she decided to try online dating. John Porter, from London, was her strongest match. Like Judith, he was with a Christian who emphasized honesty and trust.
He sounded wonderful on the phone and so we started getting quite, quite friendly quite quickly really.
John claimed to be working abroad. After weeks of daily messages and phone calls, the conversation turned to money.
When he went to South Africa what he said was, I've got to have a bond of good faith against me not delivering the goods. Well, I have known people who’ve been in business and they’ve had to put up a bond of good faith, again I didn't think it was strange. He lost his passport, this is the story, the man started getting a bit frantic and I immediately, because I was so believing in him, I immediately said, don't worry, John, I can loan you some money.
You're a respected academic, you're clearly intelligent, successful, articulate. Judith, why was your judgment so poor here?
Because I believed in John. I believed that I was helping him and I was completely bowled over by him.
With as many as one in three relationships in the UK now starting online, the internet is becoming an increasingly lucrative place for cybercriminals. We’ve discovered that last year alone almost 4,000 people were conned by online dating scammers with losses amounting to a record 39 million pounds.
They are in foreign jurisdictions. They’re in West Africa, Eastern Europe and places like that and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions.
It was five months before Judith realized she'd been scammed. John Porter didn't exist. The photo was probably stolen. Judith had sent a hundred and forty thousand pounds to an organized criminal gang.
I won't get any of the money back. I have to tell myself that it was a complete fraud so feeling sorry for myself is just not an issue.
You’re dealing with the best salesmen in the world. They don't have a product. They just want to take your money, so they will groom you overtime and, yes, I totally can see why you fall for that.
1 She’s a university professor
2 Honesty and trust
3 South Africa
4 His passport
5 One in three
6 39 million pounds
7 140,000 pounds