Sometimes they will spin a yarn about sending money to their victim’s current account and ask him or her to forward some of the money on.
Weeks later, the original transfer will bounce, leaving the victim thousands of pounds in debt.
Often the victims are so embarrassed and ashamed that they don’t involve police.
Victims typically lose from £50 to a couple of hundred to several thousand pounds, but some individuals have been taken for over £275,000.’ Mr Woodcock, who was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to law enforcement, has devoted two years to exposing rom scams – many of which operate from Ghana and Nigeria.
He said: ‘We are seeing a great deal more romantic scamming.
It appears to be mainly women who are the victims, although we do know men who are affected. People must be told what’s going on.’ So why are so many ordinary, educated, otherwise discerning people falling for this scam and being stung for such huge sums?
‘Love is like alcoholism, gambling or any other addiction,’ Mr Woodcock said.
‘Some people think they’ll win the next race, or pick the winning Lottery ticket.