Another sad case proves that it is true that on the internet, nobody knows you are a dog. In this latest case, an Australian woman did not know that a charming UK-based engineer was actually a scammer in Nigeria before it was too late.
Eight months after a divorce, Katie Stuart signed up to an online dating agency, and in time “met” and fell in love with a man, ignoring the tell-tale signs that all was not as it seemed, such as a persistent problem with his web cam, meaning she was never able to see her correspondent.
Another warning bell should have sounded when the man invited Stuart to be part of a joint venture to renovate a house in Florida requiring an investment of thousands of dollars, which she raised by drawing money from her mortgage and selling her car and jewellery, according to reports.
Based on email evidence of paperwork that appeared to be genuine, Stuart was systematically fleeced of $100,000 before she was confronted with evidence that all was not well when she started receiving goods that had been purchased using fraudulent credit cards issued in her name.
Stuart is publicising her experience to warn others about how easy it is to be drawn into scams. She is certainly not alone, with Australian consumer protection authorities recording about 900 calls a month about online scams and reporting losses by victims of more than $5m in the past year.