A vulnerable widow suffered a suspected heart attack as a Romeo conman from Ghana pressurised her on the phone to take out a bank loan for him.
The 59-year-old woman, who has no supporting family, tried to borrow £2,500 from NatWest in Cathedral Square to send to the man called Jacob whom she had met on Facebook and called her ‘boyfriend’.
However, a concerned staff member at the bank, who could hear his voice on the other end of the phone, refused to authorise the loan which prompted the woman to become very distressed and plead: “Jacob will go mad.”
Despite the victim being sent to Peterborough City Hospital, Jacob insisted on speaking to her and according to police was “very aggressive and controlling.”
Jacob had claimed to be of American nationality and to have spent time in Syria.
He told the victim that his bank account had been frozen and conned her into sending him a mobile phone.
The bank incident happened on Thursday, January 29.
The woman, from the Orton area of Peterborough, is said to be improving following the incident, but is still very stressed.
This is the third internet romantic scam police are aware of since the turn of the year, and the problem is expected to become worse with Valentine’s Day approaching.
A previous victim had been befriended through Facebook by a man who claimed to be an American living in Nigeria.
She was sending him money and he had even sent her a copy of his American passport which was later forwarded to the American Embassy in London and proved to be a forgery.
Helen O’Driscoll, Peterborough crime reduction officer said victims who fall for a romantic online con should not be too embarrassed to report it.
She said: “More and more people are going online in search of that special someone, and instead are being preyed upon by cold-hearted and ruthless fraudsters who are experts in what they do.
“Many of these fraudsters will be trawling the sites looking for divorcees, widows or widowers to prey on.”
Anyone who thinks they are the victim of a dating scam should call police on 101. Further information is available at www.actionfraud.co.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.