A single mother shared how she lost $7,000 (£5,000) after a fraudster posed as a muscular US soldier and scammed her.
35-year-old Julie Price from Portsmouth was tricked into sending Amazon and iTunes gift cards to a man who claimed he needed them so he could talk to her from his base in Afghanistan.
The fraudster had been using the photos of US soldier Jonathan Ramos and even used his first name to target the mother-of-two.
Julie said she was ‘vulnerable’ as she had just come out of a long-term relationship and was grieving her father’s death when the scammer contacted her.
The 35-year-old spoke to fake ‘Jonathan’ for a year and sold her nan’s engagement ring, TV, and car to pay for his flights before discovering that he was not real.
“I’m ashamed of it now but I was completely in love with a stranger,” Julie expressed. “I thought he was the person in the photos who was a soldier and was fighting for his country.
“Looking back on it I feel stupid. But I had just come out of a long term relationship and my dad had died just five months before he first messaged me. He knew I was vulnerable and that’s how he got me.”
Julie also said that ‘Jonathan’ told her that he ‘loved’ her. At that time, she was ‘so desperate’ to keep in contact with him so she decided to send ‘the money without thinking.’
“He eventually started telling me he loved me,” she said. “I began to feel the same and soon he was asking for £50 gift cards so he could access the internet and keep talking to me.
“I was so desperate to keep in contact so I sent the money without thinking. It became out of control before I even knew it.
“He began promising me the world and even said he would buy my family a home and he’d treat my little girl like a princess.”
The fraudster also promised that he would purchase a new car but in 2019, he left Julie waiting at the airport for hours.
“He didn’t text until the next day claiming his commander stopped him going at the last minute and he said how sorry he was,” Julie expressed.
“He then said he would need more money to come over and I fell for it.
“Over the next few months I sent him more money which added up to over £5,000. I really wanted it to be real.”
Julie then spoke to her mother, Mary, who said that she had been scammed and urged her to block the scammer and change her bank details.
“I was so scared to tell her what had happened. It took me two hours to explain and by the end of it we were both crying,” she expressed.
“She told me straight away I had been scammed. I was just crying my eyes out and mum told me to change my bank details and to block him.”
Julie then saw an anti-scam Facebook group and was shocked to see a video of the real Jonathan, who explained that some people had stolen his Instagram photos.
The mother-of-two then called the scammer and that’s when she realized that he was not who she thought.
“I was utterly devastated, I demanded he voice call me so I could see his face and it was pitch black and he had a flashlight on. I could tell he was putting on an American accent and he was African.”
“At one point the flashlight switched to his hands and I noticed he wasn’t white. He kept telling me he was the man in the photos but then I saw his face and it obviously wasn’t him,” she said.
“He just hung up and I never spoke to him again. I never had the chance to get my money back and I went to the police who couldn’t help.”
She further added: “I will never get that money or time back but if I can stop one woman falling for a romance trap then it will be worth the shame of me speaking out.”
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