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'It took my life away': Norfolk man lost £15,000 life savings to scammer in fake online romance

PUBLISHED: 16:49 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:24 13 February 2019

Dave Hazel had his life savings stolen by an online dating scammer. Photo: Dave Hazel

Dave Hazel had his life savings stolen by an online dating scammer. Photo: Dave Hazel

Dave Hazel

A devastated Norfolk man was scammed out of his £15,000 life savings and plunged into debt by a woman who posed as his former friend and romanced him online.

The immigration papers Dave Hazel was sent by the fraudster's 'solicitor'. Photo: Dave HazelThe immigration papers Dave Hazel was sent by the fraudster's 'solicitor'. Photo: Dave Hazel

David Hazel, 59, who has lived in King’s Lynn for 20 years, thought he had found love - but today he is recovering from the intricate con, which he said “took my life away”.

Mr Hazel said: “It was a horrible situation to be in and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”

Mr Hazel has worked at M & S Softwood on Estuary Road for the last 10 years, began speaking to the woman back in 2013 after he thought a dating profile picture resembled someone he met while working in London.

“She said she could remember meeting me in London,” he said, “So I thought it must be genuine. We swapped email addresses and phone numbers, we got on really well.”

Dave Hazel was conned out of £15,000 by an online dating scammer. Photo: Dave HazelDave Hazel was conned out of £15,000 by an online dating scammer. Photo: Dave Hazel

After a while it transpired that the fraudster did not live in London, she lived in Ghana. She begged Mr Hazel for money for a plane ticket to come over to see him.

READ MORE: Police provide tips to avoid romance fraud after victims lost £50m last year

Mr Hazel said: “I sent her some money and she sent me a picture of her plane ticket. I was so happy and excited.”

Then, the night before she was due to arrive, Mr Hazel got a phone call saying the woman had been arrested because she did not have the right paperwork.

Mr Hazel spoke with someone he thought was the scammer’s solicitor, who confirmed she needed money for the correct immigration papers - and even emailed a photo of the papers to him. Reluctantly, Mr Hazel sent the money.

Staff members at Mr Hazel’s local bank noticed an error in the paperwork when shown by Mr Hazel and contacted the police. Unfortunately, both the police and the bank have not be able to trace the money, saying it would be impossible to do so.

Mr Hazel said: “Please be careful and don’t part with any money, it’s not worth it. If people have, stop, contact the police, get it sorted and don’t be ashamed because no-one knows these days with modern technology what’s happening.”

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