Dating Scam Victim Speaks Out

The Leicestershire victim of an online dating scam has warned other single women to be on their guard.

The single mother, who has not been named, handed over a significant amount of money to a fraudster who she began talking to through an online dating agency.

He had told her he was a US soldier called Sergeant Charles Lecain who was based in Afghanistan. He then showered her with gifts such as flowers and chocolates through the post.

The victim said: "It was lovely to get such nice attention after being on my own for a number of years.  At one point he did ask me for £450 to help him buy phone cards so that he could ring me but I told him that if he wanted to call me he would have to sort his own phone out and he did."

After a number of weeks, the fraudster said he would like to visit her but would need someone to pay a 'transit grant' to act as a bond to ensure he returned to the army.

"He emailed me lots of very official looking paper work and I even had a call from his Lieutenant confirming that he would not be allowed to leave his post without some financial guarantee that he would return to the war zone."

The woman paid money into a bank account using the details given to her by 'Charles'. She said: "I began to get suspicious when he told me he'd made me his next of kin, I thought that was odd given that he had an eight year old son, and then he told me that I was entitled to his lifetime benefit which was worth $1.42 million but in order to release it I would need to pay £6,000 and that is when I realised something was very wrong.

"I approached the American Army and they asked me to keep communicating with him while they investigated the fraud and it turns out there is a Sergeant Christopher Lecain whose identity and photograph was being used by these fraudsters."

The dating agency removed the man from their records after they were informed of the fraud.

David Bull from Leicester County Council's trading standards service said: "The one thing all these scams have in common is the request to send your money to a person you have never met. This scam has been carefully planned and was designed to build up a relationship to give it credibility. My advice is to delete any e-mails asking you to part with money for any reason and stop contacting them immediately."

Click below to listen to 'Rebecca' telling her story to Heart reporter Arran Bee...