Melbourne man Gerard Prescott turned to a private investigator earlier this year after losing 0,000 through an online dating scam."For the last 12 months all I've done is look for answers" he said."I got a private investigator to find the IP addresses, and I found an IP address in Nigeria and one in South Africa."Mr Prescott was tricked into sending the money after meeting who he thought was a Brisbane-based woman on a Christian dating website late last year.Mr Prescott originally reported the fraud to the Federal Government's Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Authority (ACORN), but said he did not get a response until six months later."I haven't been able to get the police to do anything," he said.Nancy*, a 47-year-old single mother from North Yorkshire was conned out of over £350,000 that way: “I wasn't comfortable, and then I got so far in I couldn't get myself out, and I didn't want to walk away having lost £50,000 or what-have-you, so you keep going in the hope that you're wrong and this person is genuine,” she explained to the BBC.Nancy is now facing bankruptcy, and although her case is extreme, the average victim of online dating fraud loses £10,000 according to Action Fraud.Within 10 minutes of posting, she had a handful of virtual suitors — and one stood out.He suggested they ditch the dating site and switch to email.One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.But then they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and it can quickly escalate.
ACORN was formed two years ago to allow victims to report crimes through an online portal.
"But I hung on and kept communicating because I wanted to see the end of the movie." The ending came as no surprise to experts on romance scams.
Morrison's erstwhile Romeo claimed he needed her to "lend" him ,000 to deal with one of the many crises he had fabricated.
Then the daughter became ill and had to be hospitalized.
When Morrison suggested that her suitor put his daughter on a plane to get better medical attention at home -- and even offered to pick the girl up at the airport -- a new crisis struck.