Scam warning: Retired widow loses £40,000 after ‘looking for company’ | Personal finance | Finance

Retired nurse Di Pogson, from Holmfirth, enjoyed 30 happy years of marriage before her husband developed a brain aneurysm and died. A few years later, Di decided to join an online dating site in hopes of “finding some companionship.”

She finally received a message from a man who used a false identity and pseudonym of “Kevin Thompson”. The two exchanged life stories and photographs. Over time they grew closer and she ended up sending him £40,000 and taking him out on a £20,000 loan.

She said: “He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and not just wanting a one-night stand.”

On the BBC’s For Love or Money show, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste spoke to Di about her situation and how she made it through this horrific time in her life.

Di explained that Kevin claims to be an international businessman, a dog lover, just like her. Shortly after they met, he said he flew to China on a business trip and put his dog in kennels while he was away.

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The first time he asked her for money was for his dog. He told Di that his dog got sick at the kennel and the vet needed money for treatment.

Di asked Kevin why he couldn’t pay the £450 bill himself, but she said he told her his cards hadn’t worked since he arrived in China. Kevin promised to reimburse Di, hopefully in person.

Over time, their relationship became more intense, and the couple planned to meet in London once Kevin returned from China.

Di said: “He told me he thought he was falling in love with me and had very strong feelings for me.

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“He was looking forward to meeting the family and he was looking forward to the dogs getting together and having great walks. All the things you do as a couple.

But Kevin’s demands for money started to snowball. He claimed he had been in trouble with the Chinese authorities and needed money for his legal fees.

Fully invested in Kevin, Di was transferring thousands of pounds to Kevin and not telling anyone.

After five weeks Di had transferred £40,000 to Kevin. She had used up all of her money which she had received after her husband’s death, all of her savings and had also taken out a loan of £20,000.

She continued, “There was always the ‘You’ll get it back.’ There seemed to be something in it because we got along so well.

Di said she had no reason to believe Kevin wouldn’t keep his word and repay her when they met in London. He told her he would bring a check for £60,000, enough to cover what he owed her and the interest she was paying on the loan.

However, when it came to meeting, Kevin never showed up.

“I was extremely upset,” Di said.

She added: “I felt disappointed and extremely disappointed.”

Although he didn’t show up, Kevin was still asking for money and asked Di to pawn his wedding rings. It was after she refused to do so that he stopped contact.

Realizing she had been scammed, Di filed a statement with the police and reported her situation to Action Fraud.

“I felt sick because having to tell someone you were stupid and having to admit it was terrible,” she said.

DC Rebecca Mason investigated this case and discovered that it was actually a group of people who were behind the scam and stole Di’s money.

DC Mason mentioned three members of the group but there were others associated with the crime. The crooks exposed on the program were sentenced to a total of ten years in prison in July 2019.

Di’s case was the first in the UK to see a criminal gang convicted of romance scam crimes.

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